Ava my German shepherd is quite verbal.
Really, she is.
She may not have all the consonant sounds down but she's got her vowels.
We discovered she could "talk" when we brought her home and I told her she could lie down, that she was home.
She looked at me, all ginormous ears and said, "Ro ram?"
She promptly jumped up in the well-worn recliner that had cradled three German shepherds before her and went to sleep.
Now, she's using her words to be vocal about other things.
Like treats. Ava likes to eat and isn't ashamed to tell you when she's hungry.
"What do you want?" we will ask when she paws at us.
"Onnngry," she will bellow.
"You're not hungry are you?"
She is so serious about her food that when Lamar opened the big container we store the food in to show her he needed to go to the feed store, she wailed a repetitive, "Roh no, roh no, roh no," before flinging herself dramatically on the floor as if her greatest fear had come upon her.
She's quite the drama queen, too.
She gets extremely emotional - ranging from joy to despair, depending on the status of her treats.
If the cookie jar is low, Ava will grab my hand in her mouth to lead me to the jar as if telling me, "Hey, girl, do you not see we are low on the treats here!"
When I return from the store, she checks each bag until she finds her treats, then sits and looks at me impatiently until she gets the first one.
She's the jive talking treat hustler, blocking the path to the bathroom until you pay the potty toll of a treat. We have since moved the cookie jar into the mudroom, where now she paws the door to indicate what she wants.
She usually wakes me up by nuzzling my face gently in a gesture that seems precious, but I have learned her ulterior motive is to just wake me up so she can hustle on.
I've told Mama it takes me a good 15 minutes to get my coffee in the morning just because Ava is trying to persuade me for a treat.
In an effort to be fair, we always make sure the other two get treats as well, even though Ava requires twice as many. But, we reason, she is twice their size. Even the vet made several comments on her size, saying she was an extremely large girl.
I countered with, "She's just big boned," but I'm not sure the vet agreed.
The big-boned girl doesn't mind sharing the treats, but she does have an issue about who gets to be next to Lamar.
Doodle, the pittie mix, is the biggest Daddy's girl in the world and thinks her designated spot is curled up beside Lamar or on his lap, when she can get her chunky self up there.
This infuriates Ava to no end, to the point she will bellow for Lamar to "Oooove Ooodle!"
Lamar is torn. He's always been a German shepherd guy and he never imagined he would fall in love with some little parking lot pibble who has wrapped him around her chubby paw.
To the point he calls her, his "baby girl." I've even gotten a tad bit jealous.
But he can't make Doodle move, it would hurt her feelings and she would go behind the couch to pout and cry.
Doodle, instead, handles the situation for him, putting her paw on Ava's big head and pushing her away, never making eye contact with the big dog.
The two otherwise get along famously, except when Ava overzealously sucks on Doodle's ears. We haven't figured out why she likes to suck on Doodle's head but she does.
She's even done it to Pumpkin, who considers the shepherd her arch nemesis, and was not amused. But what's a dog to do?
"Mama, these dogs are running things here. And Ava thinks she's boss just because she's bigger and can talk."
Anyone else would think I was a ditzy dog lady, claiming my dog was verbal, but Mama and I both knew her cat, Bennie, could talk.
"Are you letting Ava have her way?" she wanted to know, and I told her for the most part, yes. She's quite persuasive, persistent and well, she works those puppy eyes, putting her ears back to show them off to their full big, brown adorable effect.
She knows how to work it.
It's hard not to let her have her way; before she came to us, we had been broken hearted, losing three of our dogs - two German shepherds and the evil beagle-within a month.
She had come into our life at a time we needed the peace only she could give.
The Border Collie was glad to have her here, even if she won't admit it.
"I don't have much of a choice, do I?" I said. "What Ava wants, Ava gets."
And really none of us would have it any other way.
Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the e-published novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."