Standardizing

I don’t think enough value is placed on standardized dog commands.

I was getting in my car around 10:30 PM in a dark neighborhood and I noticed a dog staring at me. It was some variety of mutt and about medium sized. It was clearly an older dog, and while it wasn’t fat, it wasn’t ungroomed, so I knew it probably had a home. It just didn’t have a collar.

I looked around and kinda softly said “Hey dog, what’s your name?” The dog just stared at me and no humans presented themselves as owners of the animal. Louder, but still softly I said “It’s a nice night isn’t it? Do you live around here?” Again no humans, but the dog continued to look at me with earnest interest, like dogs do.

I took a couple steps toward the pooch, but it remained where it was, no reaction. So I crouched down. The dog bobbed it’s head and gave its tail a couple wags, but stayed where it was.

So, since I had to go, and animal control is difficult to get ahold of at the best of times, even if you know the number, I just said “It’s time for you to go home dog.” The dog stamped its feet but stayed still. So I just repeated “Go on home dog.” This time it responded and began leaving.

I watched it walk behind a car, but it didn’t come out. So I peeked around the SUV and it quickly jumped to the other side. So I looked on the other side to see a furry face watching me.

“It’s time to go home”

The dog licked its lips and backed up.

“Go on home”

Then it trotted off, resolutely towards a set of houses and hopped up some stairs in the side walk before looking back at me.

“Go on home”

It trotted into the houses, tail slightly wagging, and disappeared.
I can only assume it was going home, as I have no way of determining. But if it was going home, then it was only thanks to its owners using something similar to the tone and words I used to tell it to go home. So by imparting their dog with a common phrase people in my region use to tell a dog to return to its house, they gave me and other strangers tools to interact with their dog. Those tools may have only saved them a moment or two of searching or calling, but it also gave me confidence that the dog I was interacting with had a home, it was nearby, and it didn’t require additional attention. I think it’s very important that the beings we are responsible for are able to be interacted with by strangers, because it will often be for their and our benefit. Also, who doesn’t love making a dog happy?
It’s not just dogs though, it’s important that we all have common terms and ideas that we use to communicate. It’s important that we all have tools and shorthand to facilitate communication with strangers, friends, and family. Employing private dialects, inside jokes, jargon, and references can often alienate and exclude others and make them feel like dogs who have only ever been talked to in whistles.

There’s more to say there, but I mostly think it’s cool how certain things carry over. Also how there is apparently a parallel dialect of English that I can only thing of as Doglish, and most of us speak it, two legs or four.

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