If you wonder why your dog growls at the mailman or howls at the moon, the answer may light in this week's "Does It Work?" product. A Japanese scientist, an expert at both acoustics and animal behavior, claims to have developed a gadget that translates dog voice prints to tell you what your dog is saying. Time magazine gave the Bowlingual one of its "coolest invention" awards. But we all know that doesn't mean anything until the Bowlingual passes the "Does It Work?" test.
If your dog truly has something to tell you, the Bowlingual is probably your best bet at figuring it out. Local dog expert and Smith County Animal Shelter director, Gayle Helms will help us test it out. The Bowlingual comes in two parts, the transmitter worn by your dog, and the receiver. It will need to be set to one of eighty-five available breeds, so the Bowlingual knows what kind of dog it's listening to.
Cletus is a Dachshund. At first he was a bit camera shy. But when we brought in his friend Chris from the animal shelter, Cletus really opened up and started barking a lot. "I love you," said the translation on the Bowlingual. But the love didn't last long when Chris started roughing Cletus up. "You're not so tough," the Bowlingual translated for Cletus. And then it escalated as Chris continued to aggravate the dog. "Enough is enough," said the Bowlingual. A few seconds later, according to the Bowlingual, Cletus asks, "Are you my friend or my enemy?" Some in the room started wondering, "Is the Bowlingual just programmed to escalate the conversation? Are we being had?" Maybe so, but how did it know when Chris finally left the room? "Yippee!" said the Bowlingual.
"It was just really neat," says Helms. "So, I think for people to be able to halfway communicate with their pets, dogs or cats, I just think it's a neat idea." Gayle was just on the edge of saying the Bowlingual's the real deal. And while it can't be disproved based on our experience, Gayle admits it can't be proven either.
So what's her verdict? "Maybe," she says. "I wouldn't want to say 'no'."
We don't need a translator for that. We give the Bowlingual a "maybe."
Not long ago, the Bowlingual was going for $123.00. They've sold hundreds of thousands of them. We found ours at Marshall's in Tyler for $19.99. They've come down quite a bit. They sell online for less than $40.00 now. Gayle decided, if it enhances the relationship between your and your dog and causes you to communicate more, it's probably worth the cost.