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Mar 13th, 2011
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Communication… Communication is key to everything we do. Yet it’s often haphazard or neglected, and misinterpreted.


My pets all communicate in very different ways. My dog Dan, mostly silently… with occasional acts of depravity. Despite being seven years old he likes to chew. Anything. And everything. He also has a notorious sweet tooth. So along with my very expensive flip-flops, he likes to eat the ‘softmints’ that my mother loves. Cardboard… the post… the washing on the line… if he can reach it, he chews it. The trail of destruction is phenomenal, and usually spread all over the garden.

He has doorway issues… open any door and he gets hysterically over-excited. He just has to tell you all about it, at the top of his voice.

Dan either whispers… or shouts.

Solly, my enormous, greedy boy-cat, looking like a cross between a teddy bear and a 1970s fluffy throw cushion has his own peculiar ways of communicating. Very pretty, but not very bright, Solly is easily confused. Yesterday, he caught a spider. Having nailed his prey, he didn’t have a clue what to do with it. Most cats are instinctive hunters. Sols tends to react as though he was on a correspondence course, and the next lesson is lost in the post. So he dropped the spider and sat down to inspect it.


“WAAAAH??” He poked it a bit with his paw. “waah?” No, I didn’t just type in those question marks, you can hear them in the vibrato of his wail. He poked it a bit more, got up and circled it, as though trying to make up his mind. Sols’ thought processes take a while to percolate. Then he sat on it for a bit. Got up and wandered off, apparently satisfied that he had fulfilled his catly duties.

He loves to be admired. He will do anything and everything to be the centre of attention. He likes to pose for more admiration (which he naturally hopes will lead directly to more treats).


My Sweet Charisma is the brains of the operation. Tizzy is smart, you can see her thought processes in action. If I was the paranoid sort, I would wonder exactly what her role was in the great break-out which resulted in the leg falling off the dining room table for the third time.

Smaller than her honorary brother, she’s neat and silky-coated to his scruffy fluffy look, very pretty with delicate little paws, she is also deceptively strong for her size, and very determined.

As Garfield once “said”, Artificial Intelligence? I’ll be impressed when they invent Artificial Cunning.

My pets all communicate, sometimes you really don’t want to hear what they’re saying. Especially when they are clearly laughing at your stupidity. But I’ve learnt a lot over the years observing their antics, about body language and the subtleties of unspoken communication.

"I'm irresistable" Tiz tries to convince Dan

For instance, Tiz wants to be allies with Dan. Dan is not convinced. She makes overtures, he watches her warily. I translate that into the subtle byplay of a scene between my hero and the femme fatale in my unfinished novel, Hunt The Night City.

It’s all grist to the mill. Communication is the same, even between other species. You just have to know where to look, and possess imagination.

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