It’s unlikely that when Kayla Cagnola first got her puppy, she knew how popular he’d be. Sure, her family would love him, but who could imagine he’d amass such an internet following? And it was all thanks to the pup’s unique skill that never failed to make her overflow with laughter.
Cagnola became an internet sensation by proxy. That’s because she starred in a YouTube video alongside her dog, who was just a puppy at the time of his debut. And his antics certainly made an impression.
The pup’s name is Ramsey, and on the footage he looks like a little ball of fluff and joy. He’s a husky, which is a dog breed known for working as hard as it plays. In fact, it’s most commonly associated with sleds.
Huskies originate in Arctic regions, where they pull sledges loaded with goods and people over the snow. This specialization extends to them taking tourists on Arctic trips and even competing in sled races. Because of this, as a species they spend a lot of time in the great outdoors.
Even pet huskies like Ramsey have a touch of the wild about them as a result of their genetics. This is a result of their DNA. It links them to both the gray wolf – a common ancestor of all dogs – and an extinct species called the Taimyr wolf.
However, watching the video of Ramsey, you’d think he had more in common with humans than wolves. On December 11, 2014, Cagnola uploaded a video to YouTube showcasing a special skill of Ramsey’s. But it’s not something his human trained him to do.
Cagnola found out about Ramsey’s talent completely by accident when the little scamp got in trouble. It all started when the husky puppy found some food left unattended. The bowl belonged to Cagnola’s roommate’s dog, but Ramsey helped himself to a bite.
Naturally, when Ramsey’s mommy discovered the puppy eating someone else’s food, she chided him for it. His response was hilarious and revealed an oddly human trait Cagnola had never seen in her furbaby before. She recounted events to HuffPost via email on February 25, 2015.
Apparently, the act of telling Ramsey off resulted in a vocal response from the puppy. “When we told him to stop eating it that’s when he started ‘talking,’” Cagnola described. She said that she thought it had been Ramsey’s way of arguing his point.
“I guess he was trying to tell us that he was mad at us for not letting him eat the other dog’s food,” Cagnola elaborated. Afterwards, she filmed the puppy’s vocalizations for the subsequent YouTube video, which shows an eight-week-old Ramsey “talking.”
The footage displays how the husky pup makes a noise that sounds hilariously like a human baby. Cagnola, who’s holding Ramsey at the time, can’t stop herself from laughing along with the commotion. Whatever Ramsey’s trying to say, it’s funny!
The pup’s mom cracks up, and the dog quiets after his monologue. However, a howl comes from off-camera and starts Ramsey’s speech off again. This time he sounds even more enthusiastic to make himself heard, sending the camerawoman into hysterics.
The woman doing the recording – presumably Cagnola’s roommate – manages to blurt out, “What was that?” between laughing fits. It starts all over again when another howl echoes out, reducing both humans present into gales of laughter. The video ends after that.
We may never know what, if anything, Ramsey is trying to say, but the internet loved it. The upload has a massive 14,456,169 views to date and 73,000 likes. The comments also reflect how entertained the viewers found Ramsey’s doggy speech.
Some people couldn’t believe how adorable the husky sounded. One person wrote, “How did he get to talk like that? I can’t stop laughing, he’s so cute!” Another commented, “I just can’t get enough of this; I can’t get over it.”
Others had their own light-hearted interpretation of Ramsey’s behavior. “The dog is summoning Satan,” a viewer contributed. Another commenter had a more benevolent suggestion. “Maybe the dog is trying to tell us the meaning of life but all we hear is “WAAAAWAAAAWAAAWAABANANA,” they said.
But Ramsey isn’t the only “talking” dog on the internet, so what’s the science behind the phenomenon? According to Scientific American, Indiana University Bloomington’s visiting scholar, Gary Lucas, may provide an answer. He revealed that while it’s not talking as we know it, it is a form of communication.
Dogs use vocalizations of variable pitch and tone to communicate with each other. Lucas suggests that our furbabies are copying our speaking tones, so to us it’s reminiscent of speech. He discussed it with Scientific American in more detail on June 10, 2009.
“The vocal skills of some of the dogs and cats on YouTube suggest that they might also have some selective tonal imitation skills,” Lucas said. “Dogs have limited vocal imitation skills. So these sounds usually need to be shaped by selective attention and social reward.”
Cagnola added an updated recording of a grown Ramsey on June 4, 2016. Although his baby noises are absent, he’s still talkative in the form of barks and yelps when prompted. He might not sound like a baby any more, but Ramsey’s still just as adorable as he was in his debuting video.