W Bruce Cameron:
Last month a South Korean company began offering a service that will enable dog owners to communicate with their pets via cell phones.
Feel free to read the above sentence as many times as you need to.
Using a cell phone-to-Internet connection, dogs will send their owners text messages like “I am sad” and “I’m borrowing the Cadillac.” The owners can then respond with their own messages, which, according to the story I read, will be translated into “dog sounds.”
Your reaction to this story is probably the same as mine. “Oh come on,” you’re saying. “This is unbelievable. I thought America was first in text-to-bark software!”
Here we’ve been pouring our money into technology to enable our refrigerators to contact us via e-mail (Hello, you’re low on milk, and the lettuce is making faces at me again) when other nations have wisely understood that if your dog can call you, he can check the milk!
As soon as this application is available in our country, I’m going to sign up in order to continue what my children have started, which is the transfer of every dollar I own to the cell-phone companies. I look forward to having conversations like this:
Bruce: Why are you calling? I was in the middle of an important meeting.
Dog: There’s a squirrel in the yard!
Dog: There’s a squirrel in the yard!
Bruce: OK, I get it. What do you want me to do about it?
Dog: I tried barking and smashing my face against the window and slobbering all over everything and tipping over a lamp and smearing my paws on the glass, but it’s still there! There’s a squirrel in the yard!
Bruce: You knocked over a lamp?
Dog: And somebody’s been eating garbage again. The trash can is tipped over and there are pieces of chewed-up paper all over the place. I’m just warning you now so that you have time to calm down and not be angry when you get home.
Bruce: What do you mean, “Somebody’s been eating garbage again?” Who do you think might have done that?
Dog: Uh, the cat?
Bruce: The cat won’t even eat cat food. I have to buy her salmon and tuna. The last thing she’s going to do is root around in the garbage eating some stale doughnuts.
Dog: That’s not true, there weren’t any doughnuts! The only things worth eating were half a ham sandwich and some pizza crust.
Bruce: Then why did you chew the paper?
Dog: To see if there was anything edible on them.
Bruce: So you admit eating the garbage!
Dog: I meant, to see if there was anything edible on them as part of my investigation into the cat.
Bruce: That makes no sense. You’re going to be in big trouble when I get home.
Dog: How about if I eat everything I spilled?
Bruce: No! Then you’ll just get sick all over the carpet.
Dog: Which should be all the proof you need that this cat is a big mistake!
Bruce: What’s a big mistake is this technology that enables me to run up my cell-phone bill talking to a dog.
Dog: Can you hold? I have another call coming in.
Dog: It’s probably that malamute from next door. He’s been calling all morning.
Bruce: What? Why?
Dog: Because there’s a squirrel in our yard!
Bruce: You are not to use the phone to talk to other dogs. You are not to call me at work just because there is a squirrel in the yard. Your job is to guard the house while I’m away.
Dog: I’m bored. I barked at the mailman, but he left mail anyway. I took a nap, chewed a shoe, watched the fish, ate some snacks from the cat box, and now . . .
Bruce: Hold it! You chewed a shoe?
Dog: Uh . . . Want to go for a walk?
Bruce: Don’t change the subject! What did I tell you about chewing my shoes?
Dog: Uh, Dad? I’d like to talk about this, but I can’t.
Bruce: Why not?
Dog: Because . . . because there’s a squirrel in the yard!
Write to Bruce at [email protected].