I had a little dog, a foundling. Picked him up in the middle of a six-lane road. Looked for an owner, to no avail, and quickly realized I had been adopted.
He was intelligent, could open any kind of door, even the door of an old suburban, but thankfully not a deadbolt lock. Loved Italian leftovers, and I joked that he was an Italian in a previous life.
One day I was watching something on PBS during dinner. While washing dishes afterwards the program ended, and an opera began. Close to finished with the chore, I let it play. Soon I noticed the dog was watching intently, but just put it down to his occasional, and quickly passing interest in animal noises emanating from the tube. But, he kept watching, head moving vaguely in sync with the vocalizations. More entertained by watching him than anything I had seen on the box for some time, I let the drama run its course. A little guilt about leaving him home alone while I worked full time caused a repeat of this scenario on several occasions. Sitting through the whole drama each time, breaking for intermission or to sniff the back side of the set- trying to figure out who or what was causing the commotion was the only thing that distracted him.
I regarded his interest as simple curiosity until this:
For three days, wouldn’t eat anything or play with a toy. Didn’t want to go for a walk, but I had to insist. A trip to his favorite park finally brought him back around to his happy self. After that, only comedies, because I knew that he surely comprehended the emotional content, if not the language.
And, after that, I appreciated the opera for its communicative quality.