Tuesday, August 16, 2005

animal behavior

Wally is a Seal
Originally uploaded by cerasmus.
this is yet another picture of me swimming, just one of several fascinating behaviors i have manifested this summer. i never used to swim. i was a wader who rarely got far enough out to get more than my belly wet. one time, when i was living in seattle, my mawma tried to lure me out into lake washington by wading out with me and i cried as if she was sending me to abu ghraib, embarassing her terribly as everyone stared at her as if she were beating me with my own food bowl. then, one day in july, i hopped into the water and swam after my friend mocha who was headed to the middle of the pond. so, my naked apes wonder, did i always know how to swim and needed proper motivation (my mad love for mocha?)? did i not know i could swim but my desire to catch mocha overwhelmed my fear?

but an even greater mystery is my rather clever chameleon-like personality in which my public persona is not always in line with my private actions. they should have suspected since, when they brought me home, i was initially a mild-mannered, quiet, and sweet little guy. i fell asleep in the car ride 5 minutes after driving away from my foster home/rescue, a laid-back little sweetie. now, the first thing i did when i got home was try to hump morgan but, other than that, i was cool as a cucumber. now, over time i have manifested other behaviors--like tail-pulling, rampaging, and so on. the beast within has emerged.

so my mawma was rather shocked when the vet tech described my behavior at the vet's office. she said i am the sweetest, most mild-mannered dog who just wants to snuggle. at home i'm sometimes a snuggler but i can also be noisy, boisterous, and a little wild. and at the dog park? i'm no shrinking violet.

but the greatest jeckyll and hyde act is at obedience class. my mawma thought i was going to be a big embarassment at class because she thought i would completely ignore her. and she had good reason for thinking that; when she tried to teach me "stay," "come" and "down" i would stonewall, occasionally conceding after much goading and snacking. but in class i am the star pupil. no one sits, heels, downs, and generally act like a well-oiled machine--or at least one of those weird obedience trial dogs--than me. but when we go home? i feign deafness, wander away or perform reluctantly.

so what explains this? i might just be manipulative--knowing when and where i get the most attention for what behavior. the noisy, obnoxious dogs end up in cages at the vet while being sweet and mild lets me stay out with the vet techs who think i'm so sweet they take me out to the front desk to hang out with them. morgan used to struggle against the vet and had to wear a muzzle and be restrained. i'm cooperative and get the gentle treatment. on the other hand, i might be responding to modifications in my naked apes' behavior. for instance, my mawma might also be eager to please (or at least not be embarassed) at obedience class so she's more enthusiastic and free with the treats than she is at home. maybe i've gotten more comfortable at home so i push the envelope, learning whether stampeding around the house with mawma's sock will get me a scolding or a hearty laugh. or maybe, as my naked apes have gotten more comfortable with me, they're a bit less strict, knowing that i'm mostly well-behaved so sock-killing is not going to turn into shoe-chewing.

so is the interesting animal behavior here MINE or my naked apes's? or is the fascinating beast what is happening in between us? am i just the naughtiest dog on the net?


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