Read this story with all the pretty pictures in it, on medium.com
My dog is named Star. Star is the Magical Dog of All!
I wrote a song describing her as such called “All Hail Star, The Magical Dog of All.” Look! Here is the video where I sing her song and she listens and kissies me because she is so happy for her song...
Now, Star and I have developed a language. It started one day when I said, “Good Dog,” to her. Then I saw that movie where Viola Davis says, “You is kind; you is smart, you is…” and I turned to Star and said:
“You is a Good.”
Gasp! I ran to the piano to write my second song for Star (soon to be released on her hit EP, steaming only on Tidal): “You Is a Good.”
Good became the Noun. Star was…a Good!
It is important the way I sing the word “Good” to her. “Good” must be a melody, a rising scale that crests mid “gooo…” and gently falls down to “…oooodt.” Yes, there is a slight “t” at the end, a flick of the tongue to seal the word…and make it a Special.
Though sometimes, of course, she is a Bad.
Or a Sad.
Or a Curious?
Or scariest of all…A Beast!
Monster. Destruction. Chaos. Somehow a hashtag in her carnage.
Star, of course, can talk back. She uses secret gestures to communicate her emotions.
When scratching Star on the chest, if her eyes un-focus and she leans back on her haunches, exposing herself, with a slight purring in the back of her throat, it means she is feeling honored.
So whenever I feel the need to zone out from the unforgiving world, I likewise scratch my chest and let my eyes roll backwards into zen…and honor.
Every time she looks a Lost or a Confused, I know she want the glottal arpeggio. I make a rumble in the back of the throat that culminates in a swallowed scream, akin to Chewbacca, that sounds like “qwhaaaaaoooo!!!!” This is how I tell Star she is the Best, the top of her class, the Bee’s Knees…it is the highest compliment of my love for her, and she loves back!
Star expresses herself most directly at the ends of her yawns.
If she needs something, she emits a whining, widemouth scream like the hinges of a door!
This is how I know she a Need.
If she sighs at the end of her yawn, she is a Tired. Too much today. We must Go Slow.
If — God forbid — she grumble or moan at end of yawn, she is a Furious. Where is my treat? Where is my food? Hello…my walk?! I have been a GOOD, and you have been a BAD!
Then I must quickly remedy the situation…or she go Beast!!
Sometimes…I must admit…I also…become a Beast. I lock eyes with my enemies and growl and mash the air to scare! Or, when I truly love someone and have shared these secrets, we will say hello by baring our jowls and snarling like Beast as a joke! It is our way of knowing our friendship…and our power.
And yes…Star and my language is contagious. The humans around me have started picking up on it. Theatres are hives for people passing on the sick, the stress, the joy, the jokes — all these humans in such close community. So it is…with the virus of Dog Speak. More and more I hear people at The Annoyance NY (the Brooklyn comedy theatre I teach and play at) saying…“A Good.”
What is “A Good” mean for humans?!
- The show was…a Good (the performance went smoothly and was well-received).
- Rehearsal was…a Good (things are progressing nicely, there is minimal drama and the group is bonding).
- Is she…a Good? (this lady worries me, she seems like she may not be OK, does she need our help?)
- Yes…a Good. (I agree with your course of action or assessment of the situation and support your decision).
- I am…a Good. (I am emotionally stable right now and it was a fine day).
And what’s more, humans are abbreviating other words!
Quid pro quo: Abbreviations, all the better for dog to understand.
Sometimes…I fear we are all turning into dogs. The improvisers who attend The Annoyance NY’s infamous Friday night improv show DOG FIGHT, which used to be hosted and competitively judged by a real live dog before it just turned into a jam, are becoming themselves more dog-like every day. Gone are the rules of decorum for an audience in a ‘respectable’ basement comedy theatre. These mongrels bark back at the stage! They scream, “Tight fucking edit!” Or even abbreviate it to “TFE! TFE!” When someone do the love scene, all audience go, “Oooh!” If someone dog-slam another improviser in the scene (throw them shade), everyone go, “Woah! Uh uhhhh!” And god forbid anyone do object work, it drive the audience feral!!
Even the landlord of The Annoyance NY, after I gave my rambling, long-winded explanation of the mechanics for the first iteration of DOG FIGHTand how there would be live dogs judging the improv comedy (and oh let me explain what ‘improv comedy’ is) and the dog is the Hero of the show because you see it’s all making fun of how people judge each other in the competitive NY improv scene, and so can we please, please have dogs in the theatre space?
He replied with one word, one syllable. All he said was:
In that moment, I knew he had begun his own transition into dog speak.
Oh yes, dogs are taking over. I fear when I return from Bali to New York, the theatre will be nothing but a pack of Beasts.
You is a Good for reading this.
You can follow Star and her beauty at instagram.com/starthelab.