First of all, I've been way too restrictive with Clare's diet. "Feed her what you eat," the good Doc said. "When you have a meal, just take a little bit of everything good for her and give it to Clare."
It all made sense to me. I thought back to those days in ancient Syria when a bag of dog food hadn't been invented yet. The things dogs musta put up with before PETA came along makes ya wanna be extra nice to your pet, doesn't it?
As we were leavin' the clinic, he took me aside and told me Clare easily knew 2,500 words. He said it all serious like so I came to believe him.
It was such a small piece of information when you calculate how many things you learn in a lifetime but I was stunned. One hundred or maybe a few more words would have been impressive enough but we were now gettin' into J.W.'s territory.
"Do you know Clare is as smart as you are, J.W.?" I asked my brother when we got back to the ranch.
"Aw, put it on the longfinger," he said without much interest.
"No, really, J.W.," I continued. "She knows almost 3,000 words." I rounded the number up a bit to get under J.W.'s skin.
"Do you know what the words are?"
Now he had me. I hadn't thought much about it and didn't know if there even was any more to it. "Well, no," I answered.
As you might imagine, I scurried to the computer to look up some information on all this. Yale (that's a school back east) did a study showing children entering first grade in this country only knew about 1,000 words in 1990. This is less than half of what Clare understands.
In the same study, it found children entering the first grade in 1950 knew 4,000 words. The reason they knew more words was because parents talked to them back then instead of ploppin' them in front of the TV.
Today, they still let television do much of their parenting because, well because they're too busy for such things. When I see children try to turn their parents off with a remote, I know there may be a problem with communication.
I was gettin' troubled by what I was findin' out so I decided to drop it.
Still, I'm spendin' a good amount of time these days talkin' to Clare. And I have to be honest with you. My conversations with her are a whole lot more satisfyin' than they are with my brother.
Bodega Bay Veterinary Hospital
Am I Pretty?