So, I have encountered many French animals over the past few days. The most important though is Scarlett, my future sister-in-law's French bulldog who is named for Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With the Wind. Naturally because of Scarlett's name she is a diva, much like her fictional Hollywood counterpart. Scarlett the dog smells horrible. One can ignore that fact, however, when looking at her cute little face. Her tongue is always poking out of her mouth, and she appears to be smiling. To me, she looks as if she is part pig/part cow rather than bulldog. Her excessive snorting furthers my suspicion that she is part pig, or was at least raised among them. She might just have allergies though.
Since she is so adorable, I naturally love petting her and seeing if she can do tricks. This is where I noted something unusual. When I tell her to do something, she just looks at me with those wistful eyes (ie: see picture). I'm not used to this! At home, our dogs Jackie and Helen know many tricks and are glad to perform (for treats, of course). They know a number of commands, including sit, stay, speak, shake, etc. etc. Scarlett just looked at me and snorted the other day when I told her to sit. I asked Robin if she could do anything cool, and he quickly started spewing French words at her. And guess what? She listened and began sitting and shaking paws. Then I realized: she doesn't know English! That's why she always looks confused when I talk to her--she doesn't understand what I'm saying!
After solving the mystery of Scarlett, I remembered Hannah and I had the same thing happen last year in Paris. Near our hotel was an apartment and every time we passed it, there was a cat in the window. We would talk to it and try to pet it, and it always ignored us! It took us quite some time to realize it wasn't bilingual and had no way of knowing what we were saying.
Bottom line: when in a foreign country, approach the animals as you do the people. Simply saying "Hello little dog" will not cut it. You must talk to the animal in the vernacular in order to be understood! Next time I see Scarlett, I'll be sure to say "Bonjour Scarlett, ca va?" She'll most likely snort and roll over so I can pet her stomach.