I love to do dog voices. Seriously. I became proficient putting voice to a dog’s thoughts (that is, my best guess at those thoughts) with our dog, Ilsa, an Aussie-spaniel mix who was incredibly smart and loving. And although Ilsa was female, I’d express her thoughts in a gruff Brooklyn-accented voice — sort of like a New York cab driver (or long-disgruntled Dodgers fan — “da bums left New York!”) crossed with Ralph Cramden (kind of the same thing).
Some examples. Ilsa watching me clean up after dinner — “You gonna eat that? I could eat that.” Ilsa’s response when called — “Hey, I’m busy sleepin’ here.” And the classic response to “Want to go out, Ilsa?” — “Uh, yeah. It’s not like I can take myself down in the elevator.”
I’ve managed to expand my repertoire from Ilsa to other dogs I know or meet. A chance encounter with a neighborhood lab might result in, “Yeah, you can pet me. A little to the left, if you don’t mind.” Petting a friend’s Golden Doodle — “That’s good, that’s good. Why are you stopping? What do you mean you have other things to do?” And, finally, the little Yorkie skittering down the street — “Don’t step on me. I’ll hurt you. Bad. I may be little but I can take you.”
But the dog voice that gets me every time is the one B. “heard” when he first saw Ilsa at the animal shelter (a few years before he and I became a “we”). “She just looked up at me and I knew she was thinking, ‘I’m good. Take me. I’m good,'” he told me.
She was. He did. And the rest is her-story.
© 2013 Claudia Grossman