Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe Marjorie Wolfe
by Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
If your pet gets skittish, try a little Yiddish

By Mike Tighe - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Oy, vey! Doggone it if an idea doesn’t up and slap a guy in the head sometimes, like a woman did to me after the Jan. 23 FencePost listed dog-based literary juggernauts and a few cats’ meows, too.

I figured I was safe from cat lovers’ wrath because I took the high road when I refused to say they taste just like chicken. And several dog lovers even tossed me some bones of appreciation.

But I’m glad we don’t have transoms at work like we did in the old days. OK, I’ve explained this before, but I feel the need to do it, AGAIN, for the youngsters out there who can’t remember a THING: In days of yore, offices had openable windows above the door, for air circulation. But you also could throw mail and other stuff in through that window, so the saying was, “whatever comes in over the transom.”

So, in truth, Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe didn’t really bonk me over the head because she sent me the book through the mail instead of tossing it over the transom, because we don’t have a transom.

But her book slapped me upside the head with a good idea for a follow-up: Just steal her stuff.

However, that would be plagiarism, which would have set legal beagles yapping at my heels, so I called the winter Greenacres resident and got permission to lift a few sayings from her book, Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers.

After all, I thought, I know that some dog trainers use foreign languages as commands so the dogs will respond only to their orders.

So, it occurred to me that the high percentage of Jewish folks in the area increases the chances that, when I see a lost pet on the street, its owner might be Jewish. And I might need to know some Yiddish sayings to put him at ease while I check his tag to see whether he’d been neutered. (By the way, the book says it’s against Jewish law to neuter a pet, but it’s OK to own one that was neutered in advance.)

So, here are some Yiddish yips and yowls, with translations of the sayings, from the book:

Koif ayn hunt, baum ayn floy.

Buy one dog, get one flea.

Bloyz der hunt in foroys shmekt a frishe luft.

If you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes.

Zoist azoy seyn redn az nor di kats zoin dir farshteyn.

May you speak so eloquently that only a cat will understand you.

Me ken im getrayen vi a kats smetene.

You can trust him like you can trust a cat with sour cream.

Az a kats is hungerik, tor men im nit opleygn afilu tsen minut.

There is never a snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.

A beheyme hot a langen tsung un ken nisht redden; der mentsh hot a kurtse tsung un tor nisht redden.

Animals have long tongues but can’t speak; men have short tongues and shouldn’t speak.

Shemen zoistu zich in dein veiten haldz, Michael Vick!

You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Michael Vick.

Hint beissen zich iber a bain un availim iber a yerusheh.

Dogs fight over a bone, and mourners over an inheritance.

Hint fresn; kats esn.

Dogs eat; cats dine.

Ver hot aroysgelozt di hint?

Who let the dogs out?

A mol Bistu a hunt, a mol bistu a leshplump/hydrant.

Some days you’re the dog; some days you’re the hydrant.

Vos mer mentshn ikh baken, dos mer gefelt mir mayn hunt.

The more people I meet, the more I like my dog.

During the course of additional research in teaching this old dogs new tricks, I ran across a book titled, Teach Your Dog a Foreign Language, but I don’t need it because I don’t have a dog.

And, if I DO get one, I’ll be satisfied with these Yiddish commands for starters, from Gottlieb’s book:

Sit: Zitz.

Come: Kum.

Jump: Shpring.

Go out: Aroys.

Bite: Bays.

Find: Gefin.

Good (praise): Gut!

Sleep: Shlof.

Stand up: Shey oyf.

Stop: Hre oyf.

Bark: Bil.

The only thing I wonder how to say, in Yiddish, is: “I love cats: I just can’t eat a whole one by myself.”

But I’ll close with what the book says is the Yiddish command for Done: Fartik.

Marjorie Wolfe
  Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe