I talk to animals. Maybe I should be more specific. You see, I don’t go around to any old worm, ant or cockroach asking them how their day is going. No, I’m much more selective with my Doctor Dolittle tendencies. My dog, Jack, for example. <—-That’s him, over there to the left. The one with the crazyman eyes looking like he’s about to eat my face off (It’s not his best angle). Yep, he’s worthy of the kind of Homo sapien to beast exchange I might participate in. And in case you were wondering, yes, he does on occasion talk back.
You see, I’m that person who walks into a pet store and believes that every cute, little non-toilet-trained ball of fur is looking at me, and only me, begging to be taken home. I’m fairly sure I was the nightmare child that begged and begged for a puppy, a kitten or a hamster. One time I believe I actually hid my auntie’s new puppy down my jacket and hid in the back seat of the car for a reasonable amount of time thinking my ploy a great success. Which, of course, it wasn’t. Ahh, my days as a 7 year old dog snatcher now long passed, and yet I still have not grown out of my animal talking ways.
Jack and I have some good ol’ yarns. He usually monopolises the conversation, telling me how much he needs a scratch behind the ears, shouting at me for not paying him enough attention for the last hour, telling me how happy he is to see me in the morning after 7 or 8 hours of no play. Yep, Jack and I, we are quite the intellectual conversationalists.
Anyway, there is a point to this animal talking admission. I realise that together with my post about talking trees you may be starting to wonder if I’m actually a bit of a loony, escaped from the crazy house, slightly ‘unhinged’. Yes? Well, rest assured I’m about to defend my stark raving madness. The fantasy fiction buff that I am, I’ve always noticed how many writers in this genre incorporate some affinity for animals in their stories. Whether it be an ability to understand and talk to animals, or where the animals are spiritually connected to their human protagonists, or simply conveying a love and caring for animals as pets or companions.
I know that one prevalent convention of the fantasy genre is that the main character is often isolated or cut off from society in some way. Harry Potter had his friends but they couldn’t always be with him or go through the trials he undertook. And so there was his owl, Hedwig, to keep him company. In the Farseer Trilogy series that I’m reading at the moment (see my previous post) some people have the ability to talk and bond to animals. The main character, Fitz, is one of these people, and again, is in many ways detached from society. His animal bonds offer him the companionship and friendship that he cannot find in the human company he keeps. In Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials every human has a daemon, which is essentially a person’s soul in the shape of an animal. Isobelle Carmody is another animal lover, advocating, in her Obernewtyn Chonicles, for animals in such a way that a horse must agree and be willing to carry a rider. Where animals are not owned or considered pets, but exist as equals amongst humans.
I’m sure there are many more examples, but I wonder at this manifestation of animal equality and the many stories whereby the humans have the ability to speak to animals. Does it stem from some guilt at the maltreatment of animals over the centuries? Or is it some inner, subconscious response to a desire to realise such a possibility? Perhaps I’m just looking to substantiate my predisposition to talking to animals. Who knows? What I do hope, is that in the very least it results in an awareness of animals – not so much as to offer them a seat at the dining table perhaps, but as living things just as worthy of the respect and decency that we expect for ourselves.
Jack says it’s time to play. The beast has spoken.
I do the exact same thing! I talk to my dogs all the time – exactly as though they are humans.
I also refer to them by their actual names about 5% of the time and call them any two syllable sounds that come into my head the rest of the time. For example, their names are Mimi and Lucy, but I could call them anything from boo-boo, moo-moo, bunny-wunny, lucy-wucy, mimi-wimi during one day. It really doesn’t matter, as long as it’s a two syllable sound, the chances that I’ll refer to them that way are high!
I suspect my dog actually thinks he is human we talk to him that much. Ah the old boo-boo lucy-wucy eh? Instead, I am responsible for calling every dog out there ‘puppy’, even the fully grown ones. “Hello puppy” is my trademark greeting. Animal lovers…we’re a special breed!
Love this! I talk to Vin and Sly (my cat and ferret) all the time. This made me think about how so many of Dean Kountz’s novels feature golden retrievers and their relationships with a main character …
Vin and Sly are great names! I’ve never read any Dean Kountz, but any author who includes golden retrievers has to be pretty cool, right?
Lol I too am and animal talker… and a “puppy” greeter as well. Even our full grown Rottweiler is ‘puppy’ to me… and I can relate to the ‘boo-boo’ name calling as I am guilty of that on a regular basis.
I suspect there are more of us about than we’d expect. I wonder what the animals think of our strange human ways?!
Hi Katy. Thanks for visiting me. On my return visit, this post caught my eye. I just finished writing my first fantasy novel, and curiously enough both my major characters have bonds with animals and have a particular animal companion. I didn’t consciously plan this at any point, so I don’t know why it happened. I don’t really have an answer about why bonds-with-animals is so popular a feature in fantasy fiction, but it’s an interesting question.
By the by, I also tend to address dogs as ‘puppy’ – or rather I used to, but I got tired of people kindly informing me that it’s a fully-grown dog. Yeah.. I can see that :P
It’s interesting isn’t it? I’m sure that my fantasy novel will have animals in it, not because I intend to stick by a particular convention or feel it is necessary for it to be successful, but I just have a desire and enthusiasm to make that a part of it.
I thought your post was interesting because I’ve heard more than one female fantasy author recently discuss their choice of ambiguous pen names that could be male names, or using only their first initials in order to gain a wider readership. And those that wish they had done so before publishing under a female name, simply because it has been shown that boys are reluctant to reading fantasy novels written by female writers. So, the gender debate goes beyond even just the characters!
Ha! Yes, people can take us quirky animal lovers a little too seriously. I will, however, stand firm in my puppy calling ways!
Gods, you made me miss my dog. He passed away just weeks ago, and every time I open my front door when I come home, I expect his huge, furry ass come runnin’.. but it never does.
Wrote a bit about it to make me feel better, but… didn’t help.
I’m sorry to hear that. We lost our 4 year old German Shepherd a few years ago and I was truly devastated. The loss of an animal is just as sad as losing a friend or relative, sometimes worse in not being able to convey to them in words your love for them or assure them that everything will be okay. I think only time heals those kinds of wounds…and maybe also a new puppy :)
I’m not sure I can get a new dog yet, it’s.. well, I’m a wee bit too sentimental for my own good.
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