Highgate Woods and playground, north London, Sunday morning, summertime, a few years ago.
Daughter, Son and I are promenading through the woods. Some people are jogging, some are talking and others can be seen in the distance chasing a football. And there are some people walking their dogs, too.
- 'Woof, woof', barks Son.
- 'Woof, woof', Daughter joins in.
- 'Do you know how to make the dog's barking sound in Spanish?' I interject.
- 'No', both answer in unison.
- 'Jau, jau'.
- 'Jau, jau?' Son eyes me suspiciously.' But it doesn't even sound like a proper bark'.
- 'Well, that's how it is'.
More walking, more people with their dogs. More 'woof, woof', but this time accompanied by 'jau, jau'.
A whole hour passes. We are now in the playground. I am reading the newspaper whilst Son and Daughter are playing in the swings. I check my watch, time to go. My class starts in about an hour and I need to warm up before my students come in.
- 'Off we go now!'
- 'All right!' they both answer.
On the way out we come across a dalmatian, a terrier and two chihuahuas.
- 'Woof, woof, jau, jau'. The sounds come out in both languages and you can barely tell them apart.
As we leave I can't help looking back and spot one of the chihuahuas coming closer to the terrier and I swear I can hear them muttering under their breath:
- 'Bloody humans. Who ever told them that they can speak Caninish? Did you see the girl? She couldn't even do the "v" right. Can you believe it?'
- 'Yes, and the boy tried to do a little CaninSpanish on me. Oh, wait until I e-mail my mate in Argentina! If that puppy knew what he was saying!'