Dear Dr. Boli: I have a lovely Pekinese dog who worships me, or seems to. He often pays close attention to me when I’m talking to him. I think he’s very intelligent. Do you really think he understands what I say? Since I’m such a big fan of yours, I named him “Irving,” short for Mr. Vanderblock-Wheedle. —Sincerely, Astonished in Aspinwall.

Dear Sir or Madam: Your dog does indeed understand much of what you say. For example, when you say, “Good heavens, will that woman next door never stop yammering about her toaster?” a Pekinese understands every word. What the poor little fellow cannot understand is what you mean when you say things like “Pwecious widdle doggy-woggy wannum num-nums?” He is positive that you are talking to him, but you seem to be speaking no earthly language, and he thinks you may be slightly off your head. That look you think of as worship would be better described as puzzled contempt.


  1. Isn’t the politically correct name now Beijingese?

    Jeffery Hodges

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  2. Daniel Allen says:

    I’ve always been curious about this Peking and Beijing thing and decided to look it up.

    In Chinese, both are written as 北京, meaning ‘northern capital’

    Peking, is the Postal Map Romanization of the same two characters as they are pronounced in Chinese dialects spoken in the southern port towns first visited by European traders and missionaries.

    The English spelling of Beijing is based on the Pinyin romanization of the two characters as they are pronounced in Standard Mandarin.

    Postal Map Romanization was slowly phased out after ROC came into play. The International Organization of Standards (ISO) adopted the Pinyin phonetic system as the standard for romanizing Chinese names. So Peking became Beijing because that’s how people in Beijing say Beijing.

    I just thought this was interesting.

  1. […] My Esteemed Dr. Boli: I write you this message with a glimmer of hope after reading your response about the intellect of Pekinese dogs. […]

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