b Papa Dog's Blog: What Does Baby Dog Say?

Papa Dog's Blog

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

What Does Baby Dog Say?

A favourite pastime of Baby Dog’s is the “What does the animal say?” quiz. Originally, this was a means by which Mama Dog and I helped expand our child’s vocabulary. We’d ask “What does the kittycat say?” and Baby Dog would delight us by replying with a high-pitched “Meow, meow.” In the last couple months, Baby Dog has started taking the lead in these inquisitions. “Doggy say?” she asks. “Woof, woof,” we dutifully reply. It’s a reliable way to pass the time on car trips, or to distract her from the fact that she’s being fed egg whites. We have taught her so well that she’s become a crafty manipulator herself. When she senses that night night songs are winding down and bedtime is imminent, she’ll venture a conversational “Froggy say?” to distract me from the fact that I’m supposed to be zipping her up in her sleepsack.

Baby Dog’s repertoire of animal noises grew to include cats, dogs, cows, horses, sheep, goats, ducks, roosters, hens, turkeys, geese, owls, generic “birdies,” monkeys, gorillas, elephants, fish (“bwoop bwoop”), alligators and crocodiles (they go “SNAP!” with an accompanying sharp full-armed clapping motion), mice, lions, bees, frogs, and probably a bunch of others I’m forgetting. Inevitably, she began to branch out from the animal noises she’d been taught and asked about those critters on whose vocalisation we’d been curiously silent. “Ant say?” she started asking. “I don’t know if the ant says anything. It’s too small to hear.” Her curiosity piqued, she expanded her inquiry outside the animal kingdom. “Moon say?” “The moon doesn’t really say anything, honey.” “Shoes say?” “No, shoes don’t say anything either.” “Flower say?” “No, flowers don’t really say anything.”

After processing this for a while, she came up with another line of inquiry around the time we went to Edmonton. “Daddy say?” she asked. “Daddy says ‘I love you, Baby Dog,’” I told her. Her eyes lit and she went for the follow-up. “Mummy say?” “Mummy says ‘I love you, Baby Dog.’” She immediately saw the next step. “Baby Dog say?” she asked. Hopefully, I told her, “Baby Dog says, ‘I love you, Mummy and Daddy.’” We repeated this numerous times over the days that followed. Every now and then, I’d try asking her what Daddy or Mummy or Baby Dog said, but she would never have the appropriate response handy. Mostly, she just repeated the question.

Yesterday, she said for the first time: “I love you, Daddy.” Granted, the question I’d asked her was “What does Daddy say,” but we’re getting there.


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