Hey there! Welcome to my blog. I'm a free dog living in Portugal and I write about my life as an artist and street dog. This blog is a way for me to have more of a connection with other dogs (and people), to share ideas, experiences and some of my art. I love to hear what others have to say so feel free to comment on any of the posts or to contact me via e-mail. If it's your first time here, you might want to check out my first post and read on from there. You can also have a look at my profile in the column to the right.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fire hydrants are to dogs what notice boards are to people.

It has come to my attention that some people wonder why I write in English when I’m a Portuguese dog. Of course, this question comes from a person. A dog wouldn’t have to ask.

You see, we dogs communicate using and interpreting body language, smell, and intonation. Since the electronic media have taken over the world, curious dogs like me have adapted in order to communicate with dogs beyond our actual physical location. Yes, we have used other means before, and continue to do so.
fire hydrant sketch, colour pencil

Fire hydrants are a perfect example. They are to dogs what public notice boards are to people. If we want to leave a message for someone and it’s not too personal (because any dog who comes along can smell it) then the fire hydrant is the place to do it. If I was to arrive in Lagos for a pre-arranged get together with Rita and she wasn’t at the bookstore where she said she'd be, then the first place I would check would be the nearest fire hydrant to see if she’d left me a message. One sniff of the fire hydrant would tell me that Rita was waiting for me at the News Café. Of course we leave messages in other places besides fire hydrants, but those are usually found just by chance.

But back to the question of communicating in English. Why English and not Portuguese? Well, two reasons really. The first is that English is the people language that I’m most familiar with. This comes from being a free dog living on the streets. Most of the people who pay any attention to me are English - either English people who have moved here or people on holiday. Even those non-Portuguese people who come from a country where English isn’t the primary language still speak English here. It’s the language in common with the most people – expatriates, holiday makers, and people working at bars, restaurants, shops, museums …  It’s all around me, so that’s the easiest for me to use.

The other reason for using English is that I’m trying to reach out into the wider world and connect with other dogs (and people too) who don’t necessarily speak Portuguese. If there is a language that is common among us then it’s likely to be English. For anyone who doesn’t speak English, I’ve provided a translator tool near the top of the blog so the whole blog can be translated into the language of choice at the touch of a button. Magic!

Of course I realize that I could make this a video blog and use body language and intonation to communicate with dogs all over the world, but until the technical whizzes figure out how to transmit smell over the internet, video communication would lack the subtlety necessary to communicate coherently.
the fine art of communication

And besides, it’s kinda fun having people take part in this as well. I don’t think they could ever learn to communicate fully in our language. For one thing, they really seem reluctant to partake in a good butt sniffing. Oh well, their loss.
This speaks volumes!


  1. Personally I enjoy a bit of conversation with my friends....right to the end!

  2. Oh William, touche! Or should I say tushay?

  3. I have to say I appreciate your use of English. as (more of) a cat I really can do without the butt sniffing but still would like to partake in the conversation :)

  4. You want to go out into the wide world?
    Good that you use the English language, otherwise I could not write to you. The Internet can not be our way of communication (still) not transferred.
    Lots of love

  5. Petra, not to worry. We reserve our butt sniffing of cats only for those who are willing to reciprocate.

    And Mischka, I'm sorry I can't write more in German. Danke für sprechen mit mir auf Englisch. Ich kann ein bisschen auf Deutsch sprechen. Guten Tag. Ich liebe Rindfleisch. Bitte verkratzen Sie meinen Magen. Aber ich denke, dass Ihr Englisch ist besser.

  6. One of my absolute favorite writers (if not the favorite) is Portuguese, Jose Saramago. If he had not been translated to English, I would never know him. I feel the same way about you, Ruca. Now I appreciate that you can't adequately describe color to a blind person, and can't describe a particular sound to a deaf person. Likewise, I suppose it is difficult for you to communicate the nuances of butt sniffing to me. And for this I am grateful.

  7. Well Dan, you've got my doggy noggin ticking away in overdrive. Your comment about not being able to describe colour to a blind person has reminded me of a conversation I had a while back with an artist person I know. I'm writing my next post all about perception of colour for dogs versus people. It should be up momentarily.

  8. This reminded me of my doggy.
    When he was alive we had so much fun, now he's gone, it was so sad.

  9. Sorry to bring up sad memories.

  10. I think your dog needs glasses. It sounds like she can tell there's a fire hydrant in the area, but where she thinks it is and where it's actually located are just a little off.

  11. Hi Plumbing (what a funny name). I might have confused you. Do you think that Rita left the message at the cafe and not at the fire hydrant? What I was trying to explain is that when we pee on the fire hydrant we deposit information. It was the information in Rita's pee on the fire hydrant that told me she would be at the News Cafe. I hope this is more clear now.


  12. An effective communication is the best way we humans understand each other. The topic is really interesting, because of the way you compared the dog's language to ours. :D

  13. Yes, communication is key for everything isn't it? Miscommunication or poor communication can lead to so much trouble. Of course it can be funny too which is good. Sometimes I worry about how the world will survive when people and their poor ability to communicate leads to so much conflict. If only we dogs could organize the world, it would be a much more harmonious planet. Peace!


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