If My Dog Could Speak

by Steven van Groningen on 16 March, 2012

In general dogs are pretty stupid but our dog is – of course – really smart. That is what most people say about their own dogs. The truth is that all dogs are rather stupid but most of them are very likable. Sir Winston Churchill said famously “I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals“.(more quotes).  I prefer the company of smart people but dogs may be stupid. Thinking about this, I am not sure if I could  even like smart dogs, I mean dogs so smart that they would talk to you.

Exactly the fact that they don’t speak makes them such good companions. You can talk to them and they don’t object, they agree with everything you say and they don’t ask any questions. I realized one night some time ago how good this situation actually is, when I had an imaginary conversation with our dog about a series of real observations I made while walking through the neighborhood.

Old Car

After a few hundred meters we got to this old car. It has been there forever. Sometimes I see someone around it during the day. Its axes are supported by bricks and the windows covered with cardboard from the inside but you can still see some clothes inside.

“Why is there someone living in this car, day and night? Don’t people live in houses?”

“I don’t know, Dog, but it must be because he doesn’t have enough money to live in a house.”

“What is that –  money?”


Home Cinema System

Then we turned the corner. Someone had bought a new TV set and home cinema sound system and left he empty boxes on the sidewalk. Sony Bravia, a big screen, nice.

“Why some people leave their garbage in the street?” the dog would ask me and I would not know the answer.

Telephone Booth

500 meters farther someone was curled up in a telephone booth. The dog sniffed at the person and looked up at me as if asking me: “Why does this person sleep in the telephone booth?”

What would I answer if he asked why we don’t let him use part of our house, at least when it is very cold ?

Young Man In Wheelchair

Then we passed the house where I sometimes see a young man in a wheelchair outside. I don’t see him very often and he must be long asleep at this time of the night. Then we got to this club, bar, restaurant, where cars are parked on the sidewalk all the time. Day and night. “Isn’t it difficult for the young man in the wheelchair to go for a ride or to a shop when the cars are parked like this?” the dog would ask me and I would have to explain that there are a lot of anti social, uneducated and selfish people that don’t care about the lives of others.

Construction Site

Then there is the construction site where they are building this big apartment building. “What happened to the beautiful old villa that used to stand there? It was kind of nice with a modernist, thirties architecture and a large garden?” “They demolished it.” I would answer. “Demolished, but why!? Didn’t they like the villa? Is that allowed?”

I would have to explain to  my dog that they are not allowed to do this. That this is a so called protected zone and there are laws that protect the cultural heritage of the country, that owners are obliged to maintain their houses and are not allowed  to let them fall apart, let alone to demolish them.

Some people don’t know or are too lazy to make money honestly and prefer to bribe people so that they can tear down a nice old building and build a too big and too tall block of apartments so that they can get more money for it. It is called corruption, a criminal offense and the people who do this are criminals. Then the dog would ask me if these people go to jail and then I would have to explain……

No, the proper thing for us would be to pee on the building walls every time we pass it as a form of protest but that would give birth to an uncomfortable discussion about socially accepted behavior. To tear down historical monuments instead of respecting them seems acceptable but if people were to pee on illegal buildings as a sign of protest that would not be acceptable, at least not for the CEO of a Bank, I fear.

Maybe It Is Better This Way

In a way it would be nice if the dog could ask me all those questions. It would mean that at least someone cared. But I would not be able to give him a satisfactory answer and trying to do that would make me sad. Maybe it is better this way: I do the talking, the dog does the peeing.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Radu Manolescu March 16, 2012 at 15:09

Dear Steven,

Nice story..:).I believe it should also be translated in Romanian as most of the ‘target market’ who should change something, is not necessarily of English speakers. And then hopefuly a newspaper decides to publish it.
Besides the lack of education, of social responsibility and selfishness of many people around there are also problems that should be solved first in order to have solid ground for clear measures: parking places in line with number of cars transiting Bucharest for the sidewalks to stay clean, public servants who aprove demolition of historical monuments – ‘invited’ to jail, huge fines for garbage left on the streets, etc and these are things people higher in the food chain than the uncivilized ones could pursue to happen..


SvG March 20, 2012 at 10:31

Thanks Radu, You are right, there are a lot of problems to be solved, I didn’t write it to complain, but just to express my feelings about this. The solution for the parking problem ? Take a look over here


Radu M March 27, 2012 at 23:36

Steven, it makes sense, clear. I still believe though that even if you apply the fines in most/all wrong parking cases, the creativity of romanians will eventually find a solution to avoid them. I think a combination of the 2 is a solution and indeed, fines will oblige to proper parking much more than building parking places alone can solve , if not backed up by law enforcement. We don ‘ t have to invent the wheel in Romania. Many crowded western cities have solved this and we could easily copy, apply a cultural factor and paste:).


Melania Radutoiu March 16, 2012 at 16:50

An educational and funny story at the same time. Unfortunately not a lot of people observe the world in such a subtle and detailed way, nor do they take the time to consider someone else’s needs or to appreciate the environment we all share. Well done!


jhuitz March 17, 2012 at 00:12

I’m a dog person. People disappoint you, except for a precious few, a dog would never do that. Pleasure to read this blog exert, best yet.


SvG March 20, 2012 at 09:28

Thank you!


Mirciulici March 21, 2012 at 12:10

Like most other posts, very well put. Rather sad story to begin with, but very educational, given the context in present day Romania. Thumbs up (once again!)


Parmalat June 3, 2012 at 17:29

Personally I believe it’s a good thing to bring down those old buildings until an earthquake strikes and brings them down on their owners.

Reconditioning such a 30s house costs in the tens of thousands of $ or more and I doubt anyone has this kind of money to throw away. So if nobody reconditioned them during the Communist era, nowadays it’s too late.


Parmalat June 5, 2012 at 10:17

Ok, here’s something else, not related to the above post, but related to a very pressing issue:

I’m gonna write this in Romanian, I understand that you do speak the language. If there’s something which sounds unclear, I can translate and explain.


Solutia este inversarea piramidei salariale: tinerii sa primeasca salarii mari la angajare, iar pe masura inaintarii in varsta salariul sa scada. Ultimul salariu sa fie egal cu prima pensie. Avantaje:

– incurajarea natalitatii (familiile tinere vor avea mai multe resurse)

– incurajarea educatiei si a muncii (tinerii vor lua in serios propria educatie si vor depune eforturi mai mari pentru a fi competitivi si a se incadra astfel in campul muncii, stiind ca trebuie sa bata fierul cat e cald fiindca alta sansa nu mai au)

– o mai buna redistribuire a valorilor in societate (persoanele in varsta care au cunostiinte de actualitate dublate de experienta vor prefera sa treaca in mediul privat si sa ofere consultanta pentru a-si creste veniturile pe final de cariera)

– un climat social mai bun (beneficiind de venituri consistente tinerii vor putea sa calatoreasca si sa se distreze mai mult in aceasta perioada a vietii lor)

Ca implementare, pur si simplu dau lege si de maine inversez piramida salariala in sectorul bugetar.

Implicit voi avea 100 de candidati pentru fiecare post disponibil. Vor fi angajati numai cei mai buni.

Vazand ca le pleaca specialistii, mediul privat va fi nevoit sa se ajusteze si ori sa ofere salarii mai mari la toata lumea, ori sa inverseze si ei piramida salariala.

Neaparat trebuie facut un studiu de impact asupra acestei masuri, este solutia tuturor problemelor economice cu care ne confruntam.

Atentie: o inversare a piramidei salariale nu inseamna o inversare a ierarhiilor! Nu inseamna ca pun director un proaspat absolvent de facultate, inseamna doar ca ii redistribui veniturile pe perioada activitatii, cu scopul de a obtine mai multa eficienta din prezenta lui sociala.

What do you think about this concept Mr. van Groningen?


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