Ariana Giampietro couldn’t understand why foster dog Monty wouldn’t listen to her commands when she brought him home from the shelter – she later realised they don’t ‘speak’ the same language
A woman who thought her foster dog was ignoring her commands has discovered it was because the pooch only understands Spanish. Ariana Giampietro, 26, had been looking after pup Monty for a week and couldn’t understand why he ignored her commands.
The mixed-breed American Pitbull terrier was well-behaved, but he wouldn’t ‘sit’ when she asked him to. When she asked the shelter she fostered him from she discovered he had previously lived on a farm with a Spanish family – and it turned out he only understood Spanish words. Ariana looked up the Spanish word for ‘down’ and ‘let’s go’ and when she said them aloud, Monty immediately knew what to do.
Shocked, Ariana discovered he knows lots of commands in Spanish – and was only ‘ignoring her’ because he had no idea what she was asking him to do.
She is now teaching him English commands too so he can become bilingual – before he moves in with his new English-speaking adoptive family.
Ariana, an adoption case manager for children in care, from Gainesville, Florida, US, said: “I had had Monty for eight days and was really confused why he wasn’t responding to commands.
“I could tell he wanted to – he was listening to me, but it was like he didn’t know how.
“Once I found out about his background, and realised it was because he only knew Spanish, I was amazed.
“I was so happy to understand where the dissonance came from.
“After I started speaking to him in Spanish, it was like he settled right in.
“He started getting ‘zoomies’, and his overall confidence skyrocketed because all of a sudden we weren’t alien to him.
“Nothing prepares you for the shock of being able to bridge that cultural divide – I was shocked but so excited when it all made sense.”
Ariana decided to start fostering Pitbulls after losing her own Pitbull, Jack, at the age of seven to cancer in November 2022.
Heartbroken, Ariana decided to make it her mission to help the breed however she could – as she realised they are “stigmatised”.
She said: “Before having Jack I never realised how compassionate Pitbulls are, they’re so loving and loyal.
“I wanted to make it my life mission to raise awareness of that because there is the stigma that they’re all violent and can’t be trained – which is not true.”
To help her heal from losing Jack, she put herself on the list to foster dogs – specifically Pitbulls.
Monty was her very first foster, after taking him home to stay with her on December 30, last year.
But after a week there still seemed to be a “dissonance” whenever Ariana gave a command.
However, after learning about his background – where he lived on a Spanish-speaking family’s farm – Ariana took action.
Thankfully Ariana’s partner, Andrew Gomez, 27, who works for local law enforcement, is fluent in Spanish so was able to assist in figuring out whether Monty understood Spanish commands.
After learning that he did, the pup has been so much happier and more confident, Ariana explained.
She said Monty has even plucked up the confidence to start playing tug-of-war and wrestling with Ariana’s other dog, Lucy, the same breed as Monty.
Ariana said: “Now he is on the fast-track to becoming bilingual, we think.
“It’s weird – I had been telling my boyfriend for so long that I wanted to learn Spanish, and I downloaded Duolingo but never used it.
“Andrew now laughs about it because having a Spanish speaking boyfriend never made me commit to Duolingo – but having a Spanish-speaking dog has.
“The stigma says Pitbulls are violent and can’t be trained which is obviously not true at all.
“They are so responsible and loyal and we need more loving people to be taking in these magnificent dogs.”