Barking bi-lingual Ginger is the star of Gaelic conversation class
HE IS the unlikely star of a conversational Gaelic-speaking class who has stunned members with his command of the language.
It can take months if not years for English-speaking people to grasp. but for Ginger the cocker spaniel, three-weeks was all it took for him to become doggy bi-lingual.
His owner, Neil Smith, who is profoundly deaf, said he was amazed by how quickly his furry, hearing dog friend learned to understand the native tongue of his great-grandmother.
The 67-year- old former driving instructor credited Ginger, who is a English cocker spaniel, with encouraging him to continue going to weekly classes at Strone Church of Scotland near Dunoon in Argyll which have boosted his self- confidence and improved his social life immensely.
Mr Smith attends the group every Friday along with 23 other people and Ginger, four responds to commands to: sit - suidh, stay - fuirich, come here - Trobhad and good boy - cu math.
‘Ginger learned Gaelic because he has been coming with me to the drop-in centre and I thought it would be good fun,’ he added.
‘He has picked it up really quickly, it only took him about three weeks.
‘It is great because I can show off that he is a bi-lingual dog - people think it is amazing that he can do that and it is a wee bit of added interest to the class.’
The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison, who officially announced that the group had changed its name from Strone Gaelic drop-in centre to Ionad na Ceilidhe - the meeting place to talk - during a recent visit, said he was ‘ very impressed’ by Ginger’s grasp of the language which he also speaks.
‘It is great to see an older person enjoying such a good relationship with his dog where Gaelic is the medium of communication,’ he added.
Elma McArthur, who grew up in Tiree but now lives in Dunoon and leads the conversation class, said she too was very impressed by the speed Ginger had picked up the complex language.
‘He is a very, sharp clever dog. It is a really good advert for Gaelic and I have never heard of a dog learning it as a second language before,’ she added.
DOG- COLLARED: The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison, Elma McArthur, Neil Smith and Ginger