Today, on our walk through the neighborhoods, I heard an interesting sound. “What’s that?” I asked Gretchen.
“Someone is singing, I think.”
I turned my head slightly in the direction of the sound and listened intently. “But what are they singing?” I asked.
“It sounds like a love song,” she replied.
“How do you know it’s a love song?” I’m three-years-old and I ask a lot of questions.
“Well,” she paused for a moment, “The song is slow and the melody is kind of romantic.”
“No because I think they’re singing in an Asian language,” she said.
“A what?” I was stumped. Dogs only speak one language so we can all understand each other.
“Humans have different languages they speak,” she explained. “You know how when Liliana, your groomer, always talks to you in Spanish?”
“Yes, she does, but you understand her completely,” Gretchen pointed out.
“Well it’s different, but Asian languages are really different than Spanish or English.”
“How so?” I was obsessed with questions today.
“Oh Rubin, it’s hard to explain,” she said, but tried anyway. “Asian languages are more tonal. Like one sound can have different meanings depending on how they are said. Whereas in English, the words carry the meaning more than the tone.”
“I don’t agree,” I said. “You change your tone quite a bit when you’re talking to me and the other dogs and we know the difference between “sit” said in a soft down and “sit” said in firm tone.”
We walked in silence for awhile until I was compelled to ask, “So how did you know it was a love song, Asian or not?”
“Because music is a kind of universal language and I could just feel the tenderness of the song even though I couldn’t understand the words,” she explained.
I thought about this for awhile. “Does everyone sing love songs?”
She laughed again, “Yes, I think everyone does at one time in their life.” And then she surprised me when she asked me, “Do you ever sing love songs?”
“Are you blushing little man?” Gretchen looked at me closely. “Don’t be embarrassed. I think everyone likes to sing love songs. They make us feel, I don’t know…”
“Loved?” I offered.
“Yes, loved and the language they are sung in really doesn’t matter,” she added.
We headed on down the road and sure enough, not ten minutes later we saw a man on a park bench and he was singing.
“It’s a love song,” I explained to Woobie (who is staying with us for awhile).
“Yes, I know,” she said, “And he’s singing in Spanish.” It was clear she’d been paying attention to our earlier conversation though she hadn’t participated.
“Oh yes,” she said. “I sing silly songs and happy songs and sad songs and energetic songs, but the songs I love to sing the most are love songs.”
“Would you sing one for me now?” I asked shyly.
“Sure, what language would you like me to sing in?”
“You know more than one language,” I asked amazed.
“All dogs know all languages, Rubin,” she reassured me. “You just aren’t aware of all the languages you know.”
“Don’t think like a human,” she said. “Don’t listen to the words like humans do. Open up and let your heart be your ears. Listen to everything else besides the words and tell me what you think that man over there is singing.”
Woobie is older and wiser and so I did what she said. It took me a little bit to get the hang of it, but when I did, all of the sudden my whole body was filled with a happy glow. I must have smiled unknowingly because Woobie said, “You hear it, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I guess I do,” and with that I spent the rest of my day listening for love songs. Let me tell you, they are everywhere! The world is a much happier place, I’ll admit, when you let yourself hear love songs.
Try it some time. You won’t be sorry.
PS — Gretchen says I’m supposed to tell you that all the photos from today are from our walks with Monday’s clients — Rosie and Tyson, Oshi and Perrito, Gemma, Saber, Alice and yes, Woobie and me. They listened for love songs, too throughout the day.
PSS — Gretchen says that’s why she likes spending time with dogs — they help her hear love in a whole new way.
PSSS — I’m blushing again!