Teaching the Dog to Speak French by Karen Jones

I talk to my rescue Yorkshire Terrier in silly accents. French is my favourite: “Mon dieu! Zees eez a very big poo you’ve done, Fifi chien!” She doesn’t seem to mind – after a while she just goes to bed and sleeps. I keep talking, even though she’s not listening anymore.

People call me a selective mute. They call me other things, as though I’m also selectively deaf and selectively thick-skinned. After years of being told I talk too much, complain too much, I just stopped talking. Except to animals when no one else was watching. The foxes and deer and squirrels that used to be my conversation chums have stopped visiting the garden for some reason – probably found somewhere with richer tidbit pickings – but now I have Fifi.


Fifi chien escaped yesterday. I got an email from the rescue centre saying they’d found her outside their door, begging to get in. I went to collect her, but she turned away and faced the wall, then said, “Bof.” Not ‘woof’ – ‘bof’. All the other dogs started saying, “Bof! Bof!” and they turned away too. Fifi chien must have told them lies about me while she taught them to speak French.

The staff decided it would be best if Betsy (that’s Fifi’s original name) stayed with them until they found a more suitable owner.

I whispered, “Adieu, Fifi chien,” as I left her. She shrugged her shoulders. Not even a ‘bof’.

Tomorrow I’ll buy a cat. It’ll be a house cat, never out of my sight. Le chat to chat to, all day long.

I love so much about Meg’s writing, but probably my two favourite things are how she manages to make writing weird seem so effortless and how she injects humour into so many of her stories. I also love how frequently animals feature in her stories, often only fleetingly, but to great effect. All these things triggered this story. I was lucky enough to be mentored by Meg a few years ago and the encouragement and inspiration she gave me was priceless. I hope this wee story makes her smile.

Karen Jones is a widely published author from Glasgow, Scotland. Her story Small Mercies was nominated for Best of the Net, Pushcart Prize, and included in Best Small Fictions 2019. She is Features Editor for New Flash Fiction Review. Her novella-in-flash, When It’s Not Called Making Love is published by Ad Hoc Fiction.

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