As anyone knows who has seen this summer's hit Disney/Pixar movie "Up," a device has been invented that translates dog talk into language that we humans can understand.

As long suspected, dogs have a highly developed mode of communication, in many ways superior to homo sapiens because, for one thing, they haven't invented dog talk radio and no one sounds like Rush Limbaugh.

Using the special "Up" dog collar, it is now possible to have even more meaningful conversations with your dog.

Yesterday I asked my dog, Jack, how he feels about Michael Vick, the notorious dog torturer, the "Don King of dogfighting," getting his old job back as a football player now that he's done his prison time.

"So what's your take on Vick?" I asked Jack.

He said he'd tell me, but first he wondered if I would fling his squeaky toy down the hall so he could fetch it.

"I really enjoy doing that," he said.

"Michael Vick," he said after he laid down and pushed his paws under his head and made himself comfortable, "I have to say, I wish him every success."

"But he hurt dogs," I said. "He made them fight, and the ones that didn't win, he tortured."

"That was wrong," answered Jack. "But now you humans are torturing him."

"Huh?" I said.

"He abused animals and now you're abusing him. He got caught. He did his time. He paid his debt. That was appropriate. But now many people are treating him like he's still a bad human. No more treats for Michael, they're saying. He doesn't deserve kindness. A lot of people don't think he should be able to ever again throw that long oblong thing humans love to go fetch."

This was good. I was getting to know Jack.

"What Michael Vick did is really not much different than a dog who strays off the right path when he's young and impressionable," Jack continued. "Who knows why, maybe it's not enough discipline, maybe it's too much discipline — not everybody gets raised by Cesar Millan, you know — but one day he starts running with the wrong crowd. It always starts out small, tipping over garbage cans, chasing the mailman, running after cars, and then before you know it he's run away from home and he's into the big stuff, roaming in packs, staying out all night and killing sheep.

"When he finally gets caught, when that big Animal Control truck comes out of nowhere, he is punished appropriately. He may sit in a kennel for a long time, with a muzzle. But when he's released, when he's considered what they call 'rehabilitated,' he gets his freedom back. All privileges are returned. Everyone calls him 'good dog.' He doesn't keep being reminded that he was once a bad dog and that he doesn't deserve stuff. That would be counterproductive."

I had no idea Jack had so much on his mind.

"Look, I'm not saying this just because I'm his best friend," said Jack. "But now that he's out he should be loved and have his belly scratched. If he wants to run and jump again, he should be allowed to run and jump, no questions asked. He's no Brett Favre, but come on. Michael Vick is getting treated worse than a dog."

Jack continued, "It's weird. The same humans who are saying Michael Vick needs to hang his head and 'demonstrate a lot of self-hatred' before they'll forgive him, the same people who are carrying around those 'Hide Your Beagle, Vick's an Eagle' signs, they're the same ones who poke bulls with electric prods to get them mad and then ride them in rodeos and hang elk antlers and bear heads on their walls, and who raise deer so they can turn them loose and go find them and shoot them. I have to say, it's all quite confusing.

"It's not like Michael Vick is a cat," Jack concluded, motioning toward his fetch toy again. "I mean, if he were a cat, that would be different."

Lee Benson's column runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Please send e-mail to