Listen, just because I’m a dog, doesn’t mean I’m stupid. I follow the news too, you know? The little transistor on Boggel’s counter is on most of the time. And most of the time it’s turned down real soft, so the people can hear each other while they talk about the weather and other unimportant things. I find that a bit stupid; if you’ll excuse my saying so; the only weather out here, is drought. Talking about it won’t make it rain, will it?
Dogs have better ears than humans. If fact, there are a lot of things we do better than them. My nose is far superior, for one thing. And dogs don’t use guns to kill each other. We don’t need politics. We don’t have bank accounts. No matter what life throws at us, we’ll always find a comfortable spot in the sun and sleep it off. Being human must be hard, to say the least.
Take pregnancies, for instance. The guys at the bar were talking about (you guessed it!) the drought a minute ago, when the radio said some princess is expecting a baby. Now I ask you: how important is that? Females are supposed to have babies. If they don’t, there’d be nobody around in a few years’ time. And now, just because a clever girl managed to put a leash on somebody who was born in a palace, the whole of England is talking about her morning sickness.
People are crazy. The radio didn’t say much about Syria and Sudan and the Congo and the killing that went on today – but it went on and on about some poor baby that’ll become king in twenty or thirty year’s time; maybe even longer.
“Hey, you guys, Vrede is moping again.” Vetfaan leans over the counter to look at Vrede, who is resting on Boggel’s cushion down there.
“Dogs don’t mope, Vetfaan. They sleep and eat and … do other things. Stop humanizing the poor creature. Here, give him a piece of biltong.” Gertruida hates to be interrupted. She is busy telling the little crowd in the bar about the ruling party’s congress near Bloemfontein, and wants to get back to her subject. “Well, as I was saying: they’re going to spend millions on that congress. The delegates will stay in the five-star hotels, eat in the posh restaurants and hire flashy cars. Then they’ll nurse hang-overs while they decide to nominate the president for president – again. Nothing will change. It’s such a waste of money.”
There. They’re at it again. Talking about things they can’t change. One day. I’d like it if somebody said something that made a difference. We dogs don’t work like that. We accept things. If it’s wet outside, we stay inside. If it’s cold, we settle in front of the fire. But people! They’ll talk and talk about circumstances, even though it won’t change anything. That congress and the pregnancy are prime examples: whoever will be king or president, won’t stop the world turning, will it? It’s like the drought – it’ll only end when the rains come.
Me? I’ll just close my eyes and doze off a little.
Maybe Vrede is right. If we removed the simple, nonsensical things we say to family and friends from our conversations, an eerie silence will settle in the world. Millions of people will stare at the blinking cursor on their Facebook page, trying to figure out how to say something that’ll add value to the lives of others. Telephone companies will go bust. The flashing of little lights on Google’s huge computers will slow down – and stop. Trash cans will fill up with iPhones and Blackberries. The drums in Africa will fall silent.
Maybe then, for the first time ever, we’d be able to hear each other. Like Vrede below the counter in the bar, we won’t worry what some Bulldog in Cape Town barked about, or what some cute Corgi is expecting. We’ll be listening for the distant thunder that’ll announce the rain, or the patter of drops on the tin roof. We’ll hear the music of the evening’s breeze. We’ll share joy and pain without trying to sound important. And we’ll say only important words, like I love you, or I’m sorry.
Maybe, even, we’ll stop killing each other.
Ah well. Like Vrede, we can dream, can’t we? It really should be a dog’s world, after all.