Does a dog not feel? If you scratch us do our legs not kick? — Brian The Dog, “Family Guy”
Recently, a Hungarian company claimed they developed software that can translate a dog’s bark to English with some regularity. Although there are many bugs in the software, the program seems to get it right about 43 percent of the time, including correctly identified words “stranger,” “fight,” “walk,” “alone,” “ball” and “play.”
As this technology advances in the coming decade, we may be able to decipher dogspeak with increasingly regularity and accuracy. Every time your dog wants food, has an itch in need of a scratch, has a stomach ache, is cold or hot or just doesn’t want to get up, he may be able to tell you immediately.
This also means he’ll learn barking can be advantageous to his needs and will do so with increasing frequency.
Initially, of course, the dog translators will fly off the shelves. Finally, a chance to find out why Fido insists on barking at the neighbors everyday! But what happens when the dog’s realize their new power? They already know that their human masters are willing to feed them, bathe them and pick up their shit. Just imagine what’s going to happen when they realize they can really boss you around.
Elderly dog owners who might not be up to the task of disciplining will get bombarded with “Give me a bone!” demands, while younger dog enthusiasts will realize their supposed best friend can now make sarcastic remarks about the taste of dog food or have a point-counterpoint argument about why he should be able to sleep on the couch. Not to mention, when your dog is in the car with his head out the window, might he start verbally second guessing your speed and direction? Backseat drivers will no longer be a humans only annoyance.
Will this also open up a gap in breed to breed intelligence? What happens when my golden retriever is giving a Shakespearian soliloquy on the meaning of life while your pitbull-cocker spaniel crossbreed can’t figure out the difference between your wife and the mailman? A major class war between dogs and their owners will no doubt commence.
These are just a few of the questions that will arise as dog translators make it out of the lab and onto the collars of man’s best friend. Consider yourself warned.