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Gerald’s Talking Dog Essay Contest 2014: Third Place

SpitDog

Illustration © 2014, Peter DeVoe

By Ron Shepard

Gerald’s dog LOVES cherries; they are all he talks about.

This is not necessarily a bad thing- speak to a carpenter and he’ll frame his dialogue with the tools of his trade, constructing an argument that is solid, level, plumb.

Talk to a teacher, and you’ll hear scholarly advice, with proper syntax and tense.

A watchmaker is rhythmic, his words measured and timely, a sailor might talk of the weather.

A bartender serves up what makes you feel better, a chef’s prose is judiciously salty and sweet, with just the right mix of spice and presentation.

So what of Gerald’s dog, in his ruff manner of speech, who’s views often come with a slobber? He colors his interest in myriad shades- affected by the ripeness or varietal.

He savors his words, he pukes up the pits, he attempts frustrated stem knots with a clumsy tongue.

He loves cherries- and he’ll tell you so. He eats them continuously, although not wolfishly, and then he quietly,( almost surreptitiously) nibbles some rye grass. The grass is settling and soothing to him, although he rarely speaks of it.

The dog’s no expert. He knows what he likes, and what rubs wrong. He hasn’t the oenophiles lexicon, with nuances, hints, and whiffs (well, maybe whiffs) or much actually beyond the words that express good ,or bad, and there is little between love and dislike-perhaps boredom, but that is most often unspoken.

No, not everything he says is eloquent or profound- but so often a groan or a growl is perfectly sufficient. Like the carpenter, the teacher, the watchmaker, the sailor, he expresses as much with his manner and body language as his actual speech. You’ll know when he’s pleased or affronted without so much as a mention, such that when he does express his views, you are as surprised by the words as by their delivery.

Gerald’s dog does love cherries, (and rye). Have a drink, have a listen: Speak dog, speak!

See all the winning submissions from current and past entries here.

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