The relationship between me and my dog, Jinnie, is a tumultuous one. When she's not contemptuous and snobby, she's possessive and suspicious, constantly smelling my shirt for the scent of some other floozy canine I may have on the side. She'll give me a quick hello when I come home from work, but then will ignore my existence for the rest of the evening. Sure, we have our good times, but they're scarce in comparison to the hours upon hours of our passionate fighting to determine who's boss.
In an effort to understand her better, I ordered the Bow-lingual ($129 at PJ's Pet Centre in Yorkdale), the first-ever dog translator, developed by the Takara Corporation - the same company that blessed us with another life-altering innovation, the Transformer.
The brain behind this ingenious contraption is world-renowned acoustic scientist Dr. Matsumi Suzuki, a pioneer of dolphin voiceprint research and most recently in the news for his authentication of the Osama bin Laden tapes.
When the product arrived at my door, I immediately strapped the lightweight microphone to Jinnie's collar. Once I entered her breed, snout size and sex, I was ready to hear her reasoning on why she had to chew up my new Nikes.
As luck, or pure unadulterated spite, would have it, she sat motionless and quiet. I pulled out my secret weapon to making her speak, my spastic rendition of Michael Jackson's Thriller. She barked menacingly.
The hand-held receiver unit flashed and displayed, "Receiving... Analyzing..." while it examined and compared her pitch and frequency to over 5,000 in its database. It then displayed two things: one of six categories of emotions she was feeling (happy, sad, on-guard, frustrated, assertive and needy) and a phrase to further interpret her mood.
"Something's bothering me." She was frustrated, and with good cause - I stepped off her tail and she sauntered off, already bored with my new gadget and me.
Although the Bow-lingual won't make literal translations such as, "Get the hell off of my tail, asshole," the company says it's been tested to be 94 per cent accurate in extrapolating the general emotion of your dog.
Takara stresses that it's not to be regarded as a novelty but as a scientific achievement, stemming from the research of multiple companies and laboratories.
To the dog park, then.
Samuel, a black Lab, whimpered, "Stop playing with my emotions" when his owner Nick feigned throwing a stick for the third time.
Colleen the Collie asked me, "Aren't I great?" about 200 times in 10 minutes while hopping about erratically.
Anderson, the portly Beagle, rolled in the mud while barking, oddly enough, "You're not so tough!"
After a week of analyzing Jinnie's barks back home, I discovered that she is in fact happy and comfortable most of the time - even in her moments of snobbery and disdain for all species of mankind - and not the moody, megalomaniac mutt I thought she was.
This inevitably led me to conclude that either I can't understand women, even those of the animal kingdom, or they're all freakin' nuts.