Flash Fiction by Ben Gilbert

“Frieda Pavlov”
       By Ben Gilbert

People speak, dogs bark. Silencing a dog’s voice is akin to not allowing a baby to cry: both are talking, communicating in their own way.

Frieda lives next door, a nice friendly dog that barks and wags her tail. But every time she barks in her back garden, her owners seem embarrassed, put out and take her inside and shut the sliding conservatory doors.  I have said to them on several occasions that I don’t mind the barking (it’s soft and mild) and Frieda is welcome to wander into our garden if she so wishes.  That said, she’s still taken inside and the door to the outside world, firmly shut.

Adding to this injustice, Frieda is expected to be bilingual, not only speaking dog language but also the language of her owners. Have you ever tried learning a foreign language?  It’s hard and takes an age; in fact it’s so hard that people never even attempt learning dog language.

I’m reminded of Pavlov’s Dogs: Ivan Pavlov in the 1890’s trained dogs to salivate when they heard a metronome because the dogs associated that particular sound with feeding time.  Is Frieda being trained like a Pavlov dog? Forced to go inside every time she barks, until one day she has no voice.

Such is the life of Frieda Pavlov.

- Founder of TheBlueSpace Guides Co-operative, Nepal and a consultant to Child Space Foundation, Nepal. He is published in Poems of Meaning (2014), Poached Hare Journal (2019: Identity), Scarlet Leaf Review (Nov 2019), Fear of Monkeys (Dec 2019 - The Moor Macaque issue), Twisted Vine journal (Dec 2019), Bookends Review (April 2020), The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature (July 2020), and is the author of The World Peace Journals (Garuda Books 2013), No Place Like Home (Garuda Books 2013) and Mumbo Jumbo (Garuda Books 2015). He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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