Surprisingly audacious reflections of a humble writer
PARLEZ-VOUS FRANÇAIS, SOPHIE?I love learning how to speak French. But little did I know that through the love of French, I would meet a French-speaking dog. To understand how that happened, let's journey back in time.
My love of French began in the 10th grade. In class, our instructor taught us present tense verbs and vocabulary, nothing terribly difficult. At sixteen, I was hooked on French. But unfortunately, the next year in French II, I learned very little for two reasons. One, our French teacher took a leave of absence, so ill-equipped substitutes tried to fill in. And two, I sat next to a drop-dead gorgeous guy with blue eyes and an impish grin (you could say I was a bit distracted). When college rolled around, I tried to fit French in, but my schedule was too tight and Chemistry classes were way too demanding.
Luckily, later in life, I found foreign languages were offered at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, my hometown. After registering for class, I flipped through the grammar book. The lessons and exercises were overwhelming. I wanted to quit even before taking the first class. My husband encouraged me to give it a try and I'm glad I did. My first teacher Monique was from Normandy, France, and though she could be intimidating, she was an amazing French teacher.
Monique moved away from Lexington after I had taken three years of French with her. A young woman from Kentucky stepped in. Erica majored in French and lived in Deauville, France for a while. I take classes with Erica at the Carnegie Center as well as a reading class held at her house.
Erica offers us coffee or tea and snacks like chocolate candy bark or raspberry cookies while we read Le Petit Nicholas, the hilarious series that centers on the friends and family of a young boy named Nicholas. Sophie, Erica's dog joins us.
One time, I brought dog treats for Sophie. Elle les a adoré—she loved them. However since then, whenever she sees me climbing the steps to the house (or if she hears my car pull up) she goes bonkers, barking and dancing with tush and tail shaking.
Once, I forgot to bring a treat. Oh là là! So, Erica slipped me some dog vitamins to give to Sophie. That was not what Sophie had in mind, but she ate them up anyway.
As you can see from the photos, Sophie is a beautiful, mixed breed. What you may not know is she's très intelligent. She understands French and English. She may even speak in French.
This is what I imagine she might be saying when she sees me at the door (with the English translation in blue.)
Qu'est-ce que je sens? What's that I smell?
Avez-vous des biscuits? Do you have treats?
Tu ne peux pas me tromper. You can't fool me.
Je sens des biscuits! Je sens des biscuits! Je sens des biscuits! I smell treats! I smell treats! I smell treats!
Je sais qu'ils sont dans ta poche. I know they're in your pocket.
Je ne bouge pas avant d'en avoir un. I'm not moving until I get one.
Je vais aboyer, mendier et m'asseoir à tes pieds. I'm going to bark, beg, and sit at your feet.
Je vais mettre ma patte sur tes genoux. I'm going to put my paw on your lap.
Je vais te regarder. I'm going to stare you down.
Vous n'aurez pas de café jusqu'à ce que je reçoive un biscuit. You will not have coffee until I get a treat.
Vous n'aurez pas de chocolat jusqu'à ce que je reçoive un biscuit. You will not have chocolate until I get a treat.
Vous ne pourrez pas lire votre livre en français jusqu'à je reçoive un biscuit. You will not be able to read your French book until I get a treat.
Puis-je avoir un biscuit? May I have a treat?
S'IL VOUS PLAÎT? PLEASE?
Avec du sucre sur le dessus? With sugar on top?
Un biscuit, un biscuit, un biscuit! Merci. A treat, a treat, a treat! Thank you.
Je suis une heureuse chienne. I'm a happy dog.
Très heureuse. Very happy.
After having treats, Sophie snuggles on the couch next to Erica. She naps while we read. And then an hour and a half later, Sophie leaps off the couch to say au revoir...
but she has one last question.
Apportez-vous des biscuits la semaine prochaine? Are you bringing treats next week?
J'adore des biscuits!
À la prochaine