The e-mail from Amazon had an irresistible subject line: Audible for Dogs.
Yup, that’s right. The online purveyor of audio entertainment now has talking books for your pets? Well, dogs, at least. I was going to file it under “Signs you’ve anthropomorphized your pet a bit too much,” but you have to admit it sounds fun. I mean, what sort of books might a dog want to hear? After all, Audible has books in every category. What if they had:
In this new thriller, “Who’s a Good Dog,” we follow K-9 police dog Rex and his pug-partner Stout as they seek to solve the mystery of their owner’s disappearance. No, wait, he’s back. Oh, great! Hooray! This is awesome. It contains 35 chapters, all of which are the same.
“I Know the Butt, but I Can’t Remember the Name.” Strategies for networking and team-building.
“Barf: The High-Value Leftover”
“Every First Wednesday: Meditations and lessons from the great Sky-Dog who howls once a month at 1 a.m.”
But no, that wouldn’t make sense.
Dogs wouldn’t understand any of that. Perhaps the books are just series of ultrasonic tones only dogs can hear? You’d have to be very trusting to buy an audiobook that consists of 12 hours of nothing, hoping that your dog was hearing something.
If there’s an analogue for a novel for a dog, it would be something that had all the smells of the backyard. The cast of characters is more diverse and numerous than you can possibly imagine. It’s a novel and a symphony and a movie and a dance and a sporting event. Figure out how to distill those smells into something you can pop in a diffuser. Now, that would be the dog version of an audiobook.
OK, so I checked out audiobooks for dogs and they’re ... just audiobooks.
Cesar Millan (aka the Dog Whisperer) has a free audiobook available on Amazon, aptly named “Cesar Millan’s Guide to Audiobooks for Dogs.” It tells you how to choose a book for your dog to listen to while you’re away, with details on how to choose the right narrator, depending on which gender and vocal timbre your dog prefers.
So, what the heck? I gave it a whirl.
I put Millan’s audiobook on the Echo and left the house, but I watched the dog through the security camera.
He slept through the whole thing.
Then he woke with a jerk and began barking like mad. It was straight out of a hardboiled novel by James M. Cain:
The UPS man had rung twice.
James Lileks • 612-673-7858