The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home ...
Yes, I talk to animals. So far, none have talked back, although Rosie the Cartoon Dog tries.
One night, while I was on the couch, Rosie lay on the floor, tail wagging, looking straight at me.
“Wow wow wow, whoor whoor wow wow,” she said.
She was tense and excited and kept looking at me and making all kinds of weird noises.
“What do you want?”
“Wowrrrr wow wow wow.”
This went on for much longer than it should have but I was getting a kick out of her trying to communicate with me.
Then, suddenly, Rosie’s head quarter-turned as quick as can be and then her eyes fell back upon mine.
“Wowrrrrr wow wow errrrrr.”
“You want the bone? Where’s the bone?”
Her head quickly darted again.
Nonny, the old, fat husky mix, was sprawled across the carpet. I looked down and there it was, tucked under Nonny’s chin. The bone.
“Is this what you want?” I said.
I slipped the bone from beneath Nonny’s chin and gave it to Rosie, who snatched it from me and ran under the kitchen table to chew.
“What?” I said. “No ‘thank you?’”
Yes, I am the Dog Whisperer. The Possum Whisperer. The Squirrel Whisperer. The Owl Whisperer.
My house is remote, surrounded by woods. For three consecutive nights, I was visited by a possum. I fed it, pet it and, yes, talked to it.
He ignored me.
As you may recall, I raised two squirrels this year, releasing them back the wild on Father’s Day.
They visit me every day.
Each morning I sit on the front porch drinking coffee and hear the pitter-patter, scrittle of little feet coming down the pine tree and onto the porch steps.
Coco, or Peanut, can’t tell, scuttles up the steps and peers over the top one, glares at Rosie and then looks at me.
“Hello Coco. Or Peanut,” I will say.
I tell Rosie to stay and I retrieve a cup of seeds and toss it the ground.
I have argued a lot with Coco, or Peanut, these past few weeks, since they have chewed holes through the thick plastic bucket of seed, stole corn on the cob from me and once I caught one chewing the tip of my fishing pole, which I had left on the porch.
I scold them and they chatter back but I have yet to understand a single word they say.
Two weeks ago I had friends over for a campfire.
“What’s that noise?”’
I turned down the music and we listened: Purrs and coos and other weird sounds were coming from everywhere, in the trees above us, to the south and to the east.
I grabbed a spotlight. Screech owls.
After my friends left, an owl lit on a pine branch right next to the porch. I walked under it, took a photo. It never moved.
I went to the porch, sat down and found screech owl sounds on my phone.
I hit “Play.”
Within seconds I could hear the fluttering of wings and one, two, three screech owls came tearing through the night sky onto the porch.
One buzzed my head within inches. Another landed on the railing, three feet from me and yet another landed on the porch roof.
No one I told this had ever heard such a thing.
I have a wren that lives on the porch with me. She’s had two sets of babies.
I talk to her every morning, too.
And now, if having raised two insane squirrels in my daughter’s room was not enough, I have two more mouths to feed.
Since we released the squirrels Jenna has been relentless, begging me to get her guinea pigs.
“But you already have a cage,” she said.
Every day, all day, I get texts when she’s with her mom. I get texts when she’s here and in her room.
She had names picked out and studied all there is to know about guinea pigs.
A week ago, I caved. I am a sucker.
So now we have Bubbles and Pumpkin, two long-haired girl pigs.
“You’ll love them just like the squirrels,” Jenna told me.
I have my doubts, though they are cute little buggers.
They aren’t as chatty as the squirrels and I’m having a tough time mastering the language.
It hasn’t stopped me from carrying on conversations with them.
Dr. Dolittle had nothing on me.
Scott DeSmit is a general assignment reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.