Savvy womens Magazine


Jefferson And The Talking Meals on Wheels

There are events that occur in daily life that are too amusing not to share. As I currently am in a sharing mood, I offer one of the antics of Jefferson, my spoiled canine companion, for your amusement.

by Kathy Wooton M.D.

Jefferson, and his canine companion, Mister Biggles, are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Although Jeffie is technically a toy spaniel breed, derived from hunting dogs, I tend to focus on the cuddly lap dog aspect to his personality. And he really is a cute, cuddly stuffed toy.  One who just thrives on plentiful hugs and plentiful food. Not necessarily in that order.

I have to admit, though, that this dog is all hunting spaniel when it comes to prey drive. The favorite prey of the hunting spaniels that were crossed to develop his breed were, and are, birds. Birds are not in short supply at my house.

Before the dogs, I welcomed birds into my home (parrots, ranging in size from a tiny blue budgie up to the amply endowed Amazon parrot, playfully known as "The Big Green Chicken"). These are beloved family pets. At least, they are to the primate descendants who live here. To Jefferson, they are poultry paradise, with only rows of cage wire separating him from fowl fulfillment.

From the time they were puppies, we have made it clear that the birds are off-limits to them. Mister Biggles is not interested in them, for he has seen the beaks of the bigger parrots and he fears them. Jefferson, on the other hand, sees the feathered menagerie as "meals on wheels", and although he doesn't jump up at their cages, he views them as "forbidden fruit" to be sampled as soon as the coast is clear. I am forever telling him "No birds".

He is forever telling me, with his longing soulful gaze, 'C'mon, all I wanna do is taste them'. Poor deprived pooch.

Well, the family room, the hub of activity in the Wooton household, is also the stomping grounds for the dogs as well as the home base for three talking, squawking birds. The cages of said birds are situated such that the dog's kennel is surrounded by these talking feather dusters; the largest of these, the resident cockatoo.  His vocabulary essentially consists of "Hi there" and "whatcha doin". He says these phrases when someone in his visual field is eating. The dogs have never responded to the cockatoo's vocalizations.

The tiny blue budgie, well, any phrase I have ever used with the dogs, he knows. And he repeats this vast repertoire whenever he feels the room is too silent, like when the kids are at school. He talks so fast and at such a shrill pitch that the dogs don't seem to realize there is anything talking. Again, no canine response.

Now, the African Grey, my favorite parrot, she is sadistic. She calls the dogs by name, tells them she loves them, and she repeatedly calls - "Come 'ere, Come 'ere" whenever either of the dogs is stirring. When the dogs are reclining in their kennel, they don't respond much to this display of verbal prowess. So, I figured that they didn't really understand the Grey's mumblings. How wrong could I be.

To set the stage for this vignette - my son comes home early on Wednesdays. This past Wednesday, he took Mister Biggles, the bird-respecting spaniel, into the computer room, so he could have a lap buddy while playing on the computer. This left me with Jefferson, alone, if one can be said to be alone with three talking birds in attendance.

The African Grey parrot used every phrase in his canine-related vocab to torture the dog. "Come 'ere, Jeffie", "Wanna go out, Jeffie?", "I love you, Jeffie", "good, good BOY, Jeffie". And I must say, Jeffie was paying rapt attention. While the Grey took breaks to breathe, the budgie repeated the same barrage, only 2 octaves higher and a heck of a lot faster.

Jeffie kept turning his head from cage to cage, utterly bewildered as to who or what was talking, when suddenly, the light switch flipped to the "on" position. The poultry was talking! And he was forbidden to respond in a manner that reflected his wolf ancestry. At that precise moment, Jeffie understood irony :

I am forever telling him to stay away from the birds, and scolding him when he disobeys; while the birds taunt him and call him to them, knowing full well the dog can't retaliate.

From poor Jeffie's point of view, he's the only kid in the candy shop - a shop where the birds are the candy and are openly taunting him to eat them. Who am I? I am the evil shopkeeper that won't let him obey the talking candy.

I swear, Jeffie was on the verge of speech, he was so annoyed. Before stomping off to his kennel, he let out a low WOOF that possessed a faint growly undertone. I could almost swear I heard him mutter "creep" under his breath.

'2006 Kathleen M. Wooton, M.D.

You can read more of Kathy's amusing stories by going to her humor column...