Saturday 21 April 2018

Cu math Ginger! Hearing dog shines in Gaelic class

Angus Morrison, left, and Elma McArthur meet Neil Smith and bilingual dog Ginger (PA/Church of Scotland)
Angus Morrison, left, and Elma McArthur meet Neil Smith and bilingual dog Ginger (PA/Church of Scotland)

A dog has impressed members of a Gaelic speaking class by learning a set of commands in the notoriously difficult-to-learn language in just three weeks.

Neil Smith, 67, took his four-year-old hearing dog Ginger along to the weekly session at a church near Dunoon in Argyll and Bute.

He said he was amazed to see how quickly the English Cocker Spaniel picked up the language by responding to the words for sit (suidh), s tay (fuirich), come here (t robhad) and good boy (c u math).

Mr Smith said: " He has given me a lot of confidence because I used to be a very shy person and often felt quite isolated in company, even with family and friends.

"Going to the Gaelic class gets me out and about to meet people, and I have always wanted to learn the language because my great-grandmother spoke it but it was not passed down through the family, s o Ginger is helping to lead a family revival.

"Ginger 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."

Mr Smith attends the group at Strone Church of Scotland every week along with 23 other people.

Elma McArthur, who leads the conversation class, said she was very impressed by the speed Ginger had grasped 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.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison, added: " 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.

Press Association

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