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The most contentious issue in the field concerns the animals’ true aptitude with language, and what it signifies. Photo: Dougie Wallace

Want to talk to your dog? Science is finding a way

A few promising—if somewhat salacious—experiments with apes and dolphins in the 60's didn't amount to much. Recent breakthroughs using machine learning, however, offer us fresh prospects of decoding animal languages

By Cal Flyn   May 2020

I adopted a dog a few months ago. Suka is a retired sled dog, an old colleague from my time working at a husky kennels in the north of Finland.

I love dogs but this is the first time I’ve owned one. And it struck me, upon her arrival, how strange it is: to cohabit and coexist so closely with another sentient creature, and yet to have no clear way of communicating.

At the start, it was like having a house guest to stay who spoke no English: a little awkward. She was respectful of our space, tried not to get in the way. Greeted us pleasantly when we met one another in the hallway, but then seemed to…

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