Published: Sunday 15 November 1998

So you always wanted to talk to your pet dog, but did not know how. Cheer up for now there is a way. Experts say some animals prick up their ears to get messages across. Taking a cue from them, Karala Baumann of Dussledorf, Germany, thinks that humans could communicate much better with animals if only the beasts could see us pricking up our ears too. So Baumann and his colleagues recently patented a device that promises every animal lover the possibility of a chat with their favourite pets. Baumann's design comprises a skullcap that has two short masts at either side over the ears, each carrying a large replica of an animal's ear. These "ears" can be moved as the human "talks" to an animal, so the beast's attention is grabbed and held.

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