A not-so-scientific study.
I sometimes wonder about the effects of domestication on dog behavior. I mean to say I wonder idly — not seriously. Because seriously, sometimes dogs are so funny, I wouldn’t want to change them. Mine have always been invaluable boredom-alleviators, as well as entertainers and anti-depressants. Speculating on why they do the things they do provides me with hours of amusement. Reading a book on dog behavior by some expert would just spoil the whole exercise.
Take nest-building. The Old Guy, of course, was Chief High Nest-Builder and Blanket Wrestler. He would scrunch his blanket all over the living room floor in an effort to get it wadded to his exacting specifications. I never knew where he would end up — I always had to just go out of my way as much as necessary not to disturb him when I left the room.
Now it’s The Puppy’s turn. He used to be satisfied with his blanket folded neatly on the floor next to the sofa — truthfully, he used to be satisfied with curling up on the carpet, but the end of winter was pretty chilly here, so I thought he might like a little more insulation. (And, yes, I may be the only person on the planet with basenjis who don’t live on my furniture. When I moved in with my dad and brother, the dogs had to learn a whole new set of rules — The Puppy, of course, grew up as a floor dog.) After months of curling himself up neatly on the folded blanket, said Puppy one day started channeling The Old Guy. He wasn’t happy with a merely rumpled blanket. He had to get it all the way into a tight little wadded-up bundle. Which got me wondering — do dogs in their “natural state” go to such extremes? You would think that beyond a certain amount of “fluffing,” the return on energy expended would bottom out. But I don’t know. Or maybe I’ve just had some especially particular nest fluffers. Or maybe the domestication process — all that selective breeding for being nice to people and not eating them and all — sort of shorted out a few circuits and now they just don’t know when they’re “finished” with their nest. I wonder if I could get funding to do a study. Hmm.
The Old Guy in his "bankee"
I figured I was getting so good at making planets and stars and comets, and the tiny dragons turned out pretty cute, that I just had to try my hand at making tiny dogs. It was inevitable, right? Plus, one of my doggy friends asked me if I could sculpt her dog, Jelly, whose portrait I did a while back. I didn’t want Jelly to be lonely, so I also made a tiny Puppy. These are obviously not to scale. A basenji the size of a Doberman would be a terrifying prospect, indeed.
Chubby Puppy Figurines
There’s just over a week to go before the Bryan/College Station Arthritis Walk and Dog Walk. The Brazos Valley Kennel Club is sponsoring a water stop, which is also the “Dog Zone,” a special table for registering Walk participants who have dogs with them. There will be at least one kiddie pool for dogs to drink out of or walk through to cool off, and there will be other containers for more “discriminating” water drinkers. BVKC is welcome to put out Club related literature, AKC brochures, etc.
Since my “Old Guy” is the “Dog Walk Hero,” I’ve set up a team called “Chief’s Doggone Walkers.” Kind of lame, I know, but obviously dog-related. This shortened link will take you to the team page if you want to join the team. http://tinyurl.com/yaqnxqu
There are several ways to participate. You can join the team and make a donation on line. You can join the team and not put an amount in the donation box, and bring a check made out to the Arthritis Foundation (or cash) to the walk. You can join the team and mail a check to the Arthritis Foundation. You can start your own team. Or you can make a general donation to the walk from the Walk home page. This is the link to the home page. http://tinyurl.com/yc48vo4
If you want to join the team but can’t come to the walk, and you want to mail a donation, there is a form you can print out from the team page to send along with your check so that Chief’s team will get the “credit.” If you want to join Chief’s team, there is a link on his page to “Join our team,” which will take you through the steps to register, and you will have your own “member” page. On that page there should be a “My to do List” menu where you can load and print the off line donation form to mail with your check.
And since someone already asked, donations made to Chief’s team go to fund research on arthritis in general, which includes dogs — not just dogs.
I really hate getting up two hours ahead of the sun, but old dog bladders can’t wait, so here I sit, waiting for daylight. I’ve had the dogs out, fed them, fixed myself some “iced” coffee (cold but without the ice), and sat myself down at my computer. This is actually the first time I’ve tried using the quiet time to do some writing. Composing on the computer this early in the morning…anything can happen.
The Old Guy is curled up in his blanket behind me, snoozing away. Every morning we go through the same ritual. After I take him out, then take the Puppy out, I feed them, then I take him out again (I learned this the hard way — he always “saves” something). Then I spread his blanket out on the living room floor so he can get it wadded up to his ever-changing specifications. Sometimes he ends up near the kitchen, sometimes near the windows (clear across the room), and sometimes against the base of my chair. Makes getting up for more coffee a bit dicey. And he “talks” to the blanket as he shoves it around the floor. He whines at it with an air of “why don’t you cooperate for once?” Finally, he gets it subdued and then goes about arranging his old bones on it — which can get comical, considering how easily he loses his balance and how lumpy a pile he is trying to negotiate. Then he just flops down with a sigh, tucks his nose under a back leg, and it’s off to dream land, usually until around eight a.m.
Now if only I could get him to sleep that late to begin with…
Posted in Pets
Tagged basenjis, dogs
It’s been a while since I did a post with a bunch of pictures. Gee, that means I’ve actually been thinking up stuff to write — or just bugging out of the whole scene, like I did the last couple weeks. Well, I have a few pictures to share, and they’re pretty random, which is kind of fun in itself. Here goes…
How many zebras can you find?
Hey, somebody get me a brewski.
Everybody say "Awwww!"
I swear there was no cat in that yard...
…and why I prefer old dogs.
The other day one of the doggie people I follow on Twitter had this link to a story about old dogs… It made me cry, of course, so if you go and read it, have a hankie handy. I’ll wait for you to come back.
It got me thinking about my own situation with old dogs, and old men, since I took care of my ninety-something-year-old father for the past five-plus-something years and have also had an old dog or other at the same time. First there was Crazy Eddie, and now The Old Guy. The Old Guy is actually more like my dad in being really old but in relatively good health, so, inevitably, I came up with some comparisons.
1. If you help an old dog get up out of his bed or off the floor, he doesn’t get all huffy and offended.
2. If an old dog pees his bed, or anyplace else in the house, he doesn’t get all embarrassed.
3. If you have to wipe an old dog’s butt, he doesn’t get all huffy and offended and embarrassed.
4. It is not scary to see an old dog naked.
Old dogs may be aware that they can’t do all the things they used to be able to, but they don’t dwell, they don’t sit and feel sorry for themselves and blame everyone else for their sad state. The Old Guy knows he can’t catch the cat, or bunnies in the yard, but he still makes a short lunge-and-snap. Then he looks back at me with a twinkle in his eye like, “Hey, did you see that?” He doesn’t get all upset because he can no longer run the prey down. For him the victory now is that he can still make them run away.
I have been writing for myself almost as long as I have been able to write. Sometimes I would let other people read what I wrote, but that’s not why I wrote. I wrote, and still write, because I don’t talk.
Let me clarify a bit. I’ll use an example. I have basenjis. Basenjis are little African hunting dogs that don’t bark. Sometimes I’ve told people that and they get this pained look on their faces, like, “oh, those poor dogs. Why can’t they bark?” Sometimes they even ask me “Why can’t they bark?” because they don’t listen. (I’m still talking about the people here.) I never say “can’t bark.” “Don’t bark” is entirely different from “can’t bark.” I think basenjis just have a high “bark threshold.” They have to be extremely motivated to vocalize in a way that could be described as a bark. My older basenjis bark like cocker spaniels when they’re waiting for me to put their food bowls on the floor.
I’m the same way. I’m perfectly capable of running my mouth non-stop until my voice is gone. I’m just very rarely motivated to do so. As a result, a lot of what I have to say stays unsaid. Some of it joins other things I haven’t said in my head, and they all have a great party. Then I write stuff down.
So much of what I was writing down in my youth has been lost because the technology I was using at the time — pen and paper — was prone to getting torn up or tossed out in the various purges I went through while packing up and moving around. Then there was the “new” technology — called a Commodore 64, and things called floppy disks that you can’t put in a current disk drive of any description.
So I’m going to try writing in cyberspace — try letting the party animals in my head come out and play a bit. From what I’ve seen of blogs and websites lately, my thoughts and I should feel right at home.