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Before you start, I know.

Everybody is most assuredly sure that their pet is the most intelligent, most adroit pet in the entire world. Nobody can match their sweet gerbil, rabbit, dog, cat, turtle or canary at tricks, cuteness, or intellectual perspicuity.

But no, really, Diego is different! HA!

Okay, he looks perfectly normal. And he acts fairly doggish most of the time. But there is something weirdly, nay, creepily human about this dog that gives pause.

I have come (in the moments of lucidity) to believe that this creature is a human trapped in a dog suit. And believe me, when you realize that, it makes you relate in a whole different way. I mean, you can hardly be childishly cooey to a grown man can you? You cannot wag you finger at a possibly elderly woman and cluck, “bad dog!”

I mean ya just can’t. You feel, and should, vaguely guilty at such condescending crap.

You see, we thought Diego was unable to speak. Other than a whimpering whine, he seemed mute. Then he developed this thing we call “the growl” which is not a growl in the sense that other dogs growl. It is no warning to “leave me be”.  No, it is a long, drawn out series of syllables that are not always at all the same and resemble something like “ohhh rah rooo rooo, rum”.

This typically happens when he comes running into the room you are in and looks up in excitement:

“Rooah, roo roo rah roo!”

You see?

He speaks in complete sentences.

I’m considering contacting a linguist to pinpoint the country or region which speaks this particular dialect. I’m looking for a translator. I figure he has more to say than “Timmy’s in the well again!” It’s probably got to do with his advice on how to bring the Palestinians and the Israelis back to the table to negotiate a two-state solution.

Okay, so we have this “dog” that talks in his own language.

So, we are sitting the other evening in the living room and Diego has taken up his post out on the patio listening to the night noises (other dogs yapping mostly) while taking a chew on his rawhide, enjoying his new comfort mat that covers the stone floor.

Suddenly we here two very sharp and very loud barks: “WOOF, WOOF!” Clear, deep, manly BARKS!

It seems our Diego does not favor the sound of a siren, which is an infrequent occurrence in our environs. The next night, another siren, and the same clear, bell-ringing sound, WOOF, WOOF!

Just two. Just enough to register his dislike of such noise.

Now this raises a whole new issue to life with Diego.

Diego is the “sweet boy” of the neighborhood. He is seldom on leash any more, and often lays in the garage doorway when the Contrarian is out sawing and sanding, and finishing and all that woodworking dovetailing thing. When Rosie, from down the street goes by, he fairly faints with happiness. When the girl across the street heads off to catch the bus, Diego runs into the street, collapses at her feet, and wiggles happily as she rubs his tummy. When anybody moves, Diego races to them and demands they feel how soft his tummy hairs are. Then he trots home, happy that he has like State Farm, “been a good neighbor.”

Diego, when confronting other dogs, is often (Rosie is a clear exception) met with howls of growling barking warning him to come no nearer lest he lose his nose and one leg. Most are little shits with no hope of success, yet they blather with a bravado which attempts to sound big. Diego calmly looks on, standing still, and sometimes even requests them to rub his tummy too.

This makes all the owners of those dogs feel down right embarrassed by their dopey belligerents, and apologize profusely for the poor manners of their canines. Diego smiles, and come home.

Now I ask you, what dog takes this kind of abuse lying down? It’s as if he is saying, “what in the world are you fools yapping about. You smell and I wanna get a closer whiff. No doubt if you would shut up long enough to check, you might like to take a whiff of my equipment too.” Then he shrugs and goes on his way.

He does the same thing to those dogs we find at the far reaches of our walk who sometimes greet us from their pens with slathering threats. He stares, and then shrugs, and then moves back to the scent he was on in the first place.

He doesn’t bark by choice.

This is not a dog.

This is a guy who  KNOWS he’s been reincarnated in a dog.

Trouble is, I don’t know how okay he is with it.

He seems okay with it. He wiggles and kisses a lot. He comes at you and throws himself in your arms and then looks up at you with tender affection, surely saying “I’m really cute aren’t I?”

If you know of a translator, let me know. I’m getting a bit nervous. I just went to the patio and a bunch of stones, surrounded by four disemboweled unstuffed animals,  seemed oddly scattered in a pattern that looked an awful lot like MED SCH. Diego looked up at me and smiled.

Boy, I guess we better start saving for college.