Dr. Dolittle may have been able to communicate with animals in the series of movies, but unfortunately, reality and science states that humans are far from being able to communicate with animals with literal conversations. Even though there have been attempts at communication between animals and humans, animals have less brain capacity and have their own communication styles between their species. However, it is possible to communicate in different styles between certain animals and humans.
In the Lilienfeld text, the paragraph about "how animals communicate" and "teaching human language to nonhuman animals" are interesting and factual; the book states that animals mainly communicate for mating and aggression. This may be true for animals in the wild, but from my experience and the experiences of humans and their pets, they have communicated in some way with their pet. No, this was not like Dr. Dolittle and his daughter that had full conversations with animals, but through affection and playfulness, animals (pets especially) can communicate with their owners. For example, in a video about animal communication (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEK1cWVjaRE), Marta Williams, a previous scientist and current author of animal communication, states that animals and humans can communicate intuitively, which is based on what one feels or thinks without conscious reasoning. She claims that animals can communicate with their environments and they then can convey that to their owners or other humans with their body language. Since animals communicate with others in their own species through body language, this makes sense. Based on humans' ability to translate body language in their own minds, we can then understand what out pet is saying; if our pet snuggles close to us, they may be feeling insecure of their surroundings or affectionate; if the animal goes towards the door of the house, they may need to go to the bathroom. These are the simple, but effective ways that animals communicate with humans.
In an article (http://pandora.cii.wwu.edu/vajda/ling201/test1materials/animal_communication.htm) from Edward Vajda from Western Washington University, he states "animal systems are set responses to stimuli. Animal communication ... is used to express something immediately present... The signs of animal communication are used as indexes... Animal communication systems are not unlike the repertoire of sounds of a twelve-month-old infant, who has a way of conveying interest in something immediately present, or conveying emotional responses. " This article included many examples of the simplicity of the animal brain and how the human brain differs, thus making it near impossible for humans to have direct verbal communication with animals. However, from peoples' experiences and from Marta Williams evidence, it is possible to communicate with animals and pets through body language.
Even though animal communication is not complex, humans can understand the animals' needs and wishes. Even though humans may not be able to speak directly and verbally with animals, animals still understand humans' actions and humans understand animals' body language.