I wish someone would just throw me a bone and it could be Friday all over again. Oops, I did it again. Sorry. I've been reading Cynthia Port's book, KIBBLE TALK, and now I can't stop thinking like a dog.
KIBBLE TALK is a silly, snarky little book that kids and adults will enjoy. Keep reading for a little bit more about the book and Cynthia Port, KIBBLE TALK's awesome author!
“Oh, but it is,” Dinky said with a lazy sigh. I felt him slump into a giant pile at the side of my bed. “Can I have my scratch now?”
I couldn’t believe I could hear another dog talking—and it was my own dog! I was also surprised at the type of voice Dinky had. Gunner had sounded like he should, which is an odd thing to say in the first place since we are talking about how a dog sounds talking. But Gunner looks sort of gross and gravelly and sounded that way. By that logic, Dinky’s voice should have been very deep and maybe elegant or something, like the prime minister of a fancy European country. It wasn’t though. Dinky’s voice was high pitched like a little kid, almost a squeak. His voice was, well, dinky.
“I can’t help my voice,” he squeaked at me. “Now get up and give me my scratch! Your mom and dad are on couch potato duty. That makes it your turn to entertain.”
I screwed up my courage and peeked one eye out from under my blanket. There was Dinky, staring at me with his usual huge, walnut-brown doggy eyes. I was about to dive to the bottom of my bed and never resurface when I thought of a way to test whether all of this was really happening.
“How do I know I’m not just imagining I can hear you talking?” I asked him nervously. “You haven’t said anything I couldn’t have made up myself.”
“Fair enough. Let’s see then,” he said, and gave his triangle ears an impressive waggle. “Oh, I know!" he said after a moment. "Your dad did NOT just find Fishy Fish dead one day in his bowl. He was changing the water and accidentally used hot instead of cold.”
I threw back the covers as I gasped in surprise. “What? He did? And he didn’t tell me about it? Are you sure?”
“I may be a talking dog, but I’m no liar. I saw the little orange guy go belly up, cooked like instant oatmeal. Then I had to listen to your dad’s guilty thoughts for weeks. He still thinks about it whenever your mom serves fish sticks.”
I shook my head in wonder. This was news I definitely couldn't have made up on my own, meaning that this talking dog thing might be legit.
“So . . . so you dogs are just thinking and listening all the time? Gunner said . . .” I started to ask.
“Gunner?" Dinky said, interrupting me. "Ugh. I’m sure he was a cute puppy, but that dog has let himself go.”
“He says he’d like a bath now and then, but they won’t give him one,” I snapped.
Dinky gave me that head-tilted, ear-raised, eyebrow-scrunched dog look. “If you’re gonna start taking Gunner’s side in things, in anything, I’m not sharing any of my dog food with you,” he said, and started to get up.
“Sharing any of your . . . hold on . . . was it really the dog food that did this to me? Is that why I can hear you?”
Dinky lay back down. “They say it’s happened before, but I figured it was just dog legend. Some of us have some imaginations, I tell you! Something about a Dr. who could talk to the animals . . .”
“You’ve heard of him too? Maybe it is true then . . .” Dinky mused, almost to himself. He started whipping his long bony tail against my hardwood floor, deep in thought. “We don’t know what causes it, but we know that when someone makes an honest effort to see what it’s like to be somebody else, they can understand them better. Sometimes it can go a bit further than that. When you ate Gunner’s food, what were you thinking about?”
“What it would be like to be a dog and have to eat that boring stuff all the time.”
“Just as I suspected,” Dinky said, closing his eyes and nodding his huge head in a knowing sort of way.
“What do you suspect?” I asked, moving to sit at the edge of my bed.
“When you ate the kibble and let yourself have a real glimpse of what it means to be Gunner, unpleasant as that had to have been, your brain must have opened up a new door, so to speak, so you could hear us the way we can hear you.”
“And can you hear all humans? What we say? What we’re thinking?”
“We do eat your food, you know—table scraps anyway, and we’re pretty much always thinking about what it would be like to be you. So, as long as we keep getting human food, we can still hear you.”
“Ah ha! That’s why dogs beg so much!” I said, slapping my knee in self-congratulation.
Dinky snorted. “Not so fast, Dogologist! I believe you tasted the kibble? That is why we beg so much. Hearing human thoughts gets very boring, very quickly, but not as boring as eating dusty tasteless kibble for breakfast, brunch, lunch, second lunch, post-lunch snack, pre-dinner snack, dinner, second dinner, second and a half dinner, post-dinner snack and bedtime snack.”
“You left out dessert.”
“Oh no, never eat dessert. Wouldn’t want to get fat. Now, I am ready for my scratch and then I have to go sniff the cat’s behind or she’ll think I forgot her. She’s impossible when she thinks I’ve forgotten her.”
We have a cat too, named Fisher. My dad, I now knew, had murdered the thing she used to enjoy fishing for, but Fisher was still her name. She’s a pretty thing, soft and white and fluffy, but not particularly friendly. In the winter when the house is chilly, I sometimes feel her slinky little body leaned up against me at night. But by morning she’s always gone, off to find a bit of sunlight warming up a cat-sized area of carpet for her. She rarely bothers to look at us, and never asks to be petted or picked up.
“Come on, scratcher-girl, enough talking,” Dinky said.
'No, don't go," I said. "I want to keep talking to you."
“We can talk some more tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day after that.”
Now, if I’d had any clue about the amount of trouble I was in for, I might have stopped talking to Dinky that very instant. But right then, I could have talked to him all night. That is, if my head hadn’t suddenly become as heavy as a bowling ball stuck to the end of a wet noodle. Something about running away from your best friend’s sleepover because you found out you can hear dogs talk, and vice versa, and then discovering once and for all that your parents are just plain old parents, with the exception that your dad is both a fish assassin and a liar, makes a girl super tired, apparently.
I gave Dinky a good scratching, and then he clickety-clicked right out of my room. He didn’t even say goodnight.