WASHINGTON (AP) — When your dog says “Woof,” you hear an eager, “Let’s take a walk.” And your cat has a certain entitled meow that you know means, “Put more food in my bowl — now!”

You are not alone.

Though some folks may be skeptical of this supposed high level of communication, a new poll revealed new numbers that speak to owner-pet “language.” A full 67 percent of pet owners say they understand their animals’ barks, purrs and other sounds, according to an Associated Press-Petside.com poll released last week. In a finding many parents of teenagers might envy, 62 percent of owners say that when they speak their pets get the message.

“I speak to her on limited subjects and she does the same with me,” said Stephen King, 63, a retired chemist from Kempner, Texas, who claims to understand his dog Dagny’s repertoire of barks signaling anger, eagerness, contentment and other feelings. “Common sense works 98 percent of the time.”

King is among the one-fifth of owners who said in the poll that they and their pets understand each other’s sounds completely.

The survey, conducted by GfK, shows that owners’ affection for their pets goes well beyond speaking their language. Even as a recession forces millions of families to curtail their budgets, just one in seven owners said they’ve been forced to trim spending on their pets in the past year. And more than four in 10 said they still plan to buy holiday gifts for their animals — about the same as last year.

“They look to me for food and shelter just like my children do,” said Charlotte Phillips, 40, of Abingdon, Va., a mother of two whose family is cutting spending overall but not for its two dogs and five cats. “They can’t fend for themselves.”

Even so, these tough economic times are taking a toll.

Of the 15 percent of owners who say they’re having to spend less on their pets, about a quarter say they’ve contemplated giving up the animal. Half or more say they’ve seriously considered cheaper food, fewer toys and delaying routine veterinary visits.

“It would have killed me,” said Krystal Kantala, 27, of Bonneau, S.C., who contemplated giving away one of her two cats when her husband lost his job. They kept it after they took out a loan and he found a new job.

More than seven in 10 women but fewer than six in 10 men say they and their pets understand each other’s efforts at communication. Older and lower-income people are especially likely to say they and their pets get the message.

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