Cowboy the Big Yellow Dog has a head like a dinosaur and a lethal tail.  My husband Eric calls Cowboy “Chewbacca” after the giant furry character in the original Star Wars movies, not because of his size, but because Cowboy talks like Chewbacca. A lot.  He’s even a video star.

His heart belongs to 13-year old Susanne. At 120+ pounds apiece and both blonde, they are a great match.  Suz loves to curl up with him nose to nose.  He wraps his paws around her arms to make sure she doesn’t leave him.

Suz asks him, “Do you love me?” He answers in Chewbacca noises that sound shockingly like “I love you.” “Do you love only me?” Chewbacca responds with something that sounds quite similar to “yes.” “Do you love me so much, more than anything in the world?” she asks, and again he replies. This goes on for a while, 5-6 iterations of question and “answer” until they tire of the game.

I’ve tried to re-create the scene myself, but to no avail. I slip into her position with Cowboy and ask, “Do you love me?”  His eyes smile, and he wacks his tail like a club against the ground, but he does not answer. “Do you love Eric?” Nothing. “Are you a good dog?” Silence. “Do you love Susanne?” Chewbecca agrees enthusiastically with a loud “Rarrr rarrr rarrrr.” I go back through my original questions, and he doesn’t make a sound.  The only thing he ever says to me – and he says it each day at 11:00 a.m. – is “out.”

Forget Cesar Millan. That girl is the dog whisperer.

What do you think: can dogs communicate verbally?  Do you think Cowboy knows what he is saying?  Do you have a talking dog, or other animal?  I’ve always thought of hounds as the most verbally expressive of dogs, but Cowboy is teaching me a thing or two about labs.  We also had a vocal German Shepherd.  And our cat Juliet won’t ever shut up, although she does not seem to be doing anything but cat-like vocalizations of her absolute disdain for anything and everything.

Personally, I believe Cowboy knows what he is saying.  He is emotional and expressive.  He brings out the best in us.  In fact, I believe animals often bring out the best in people, and I love including them in my fiction writing.  Some of my favorite books have strong animals characters, like Where the Red Fern Grows.  Do you have a favorite book with a strong animal character?

Tell me stories…