Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Tales of the Pets

There will be more about Ida Tarbell in a day or two when I have finished reading her biography.

For today: “Tales of the Pets”.

As  I move about my home Penne sits up and keeps just one eye on me, looking like the cartoon dog “Snoopy”. She does this in the hope, of course, that I am about to take her for a walk. She anticipates a walk whenever I get within 3 yards of the front door.

If I say “not now”, she will give me what I interpret as a baleful look, and then slink back to her bed.

The key words which tell her that a walk is in the offing are “where’s baby?”

“Baby” is a soft stuffed toy, created to look like a racoon. Baby is Penne’s constant companion. And when I utter the magic words “where’s baby?” my good dog dashes and prances with glee and presents her soft toy to me.

Then the fun begins. We tussle a bit before Penne will surrender baby to me. Then I throw this stuffed toy down the hallway so that Penne can retrieve it. In the meantime, Adelaide, the junior cat, stands at the ready. As Penne goes rushing by, Adelaide leaps and tries to “bat” Penne. (It’s almost as if those words “where’s baby” are also a clue to Adelaide).

Adelaide is utterly imperious. Whenever I walk by her she utters a commanding “miaow”, indicating that I should stroke her. Better still she will come to my bedroom door when I am working at my desk, and issue a very stern “miaow”. I miaow back at her, and she persists. She makes my role clear. She is instructing me to follow her. She will lead me to the door to the Lanai which she instructs me to open, so that she might gaze out of the windows at any and all small lizards.


Ada, the senior cat, is more laid back. She does her own sweet thing until I sit down to read. Then she presents herself at my feet and gazes at me. Just as soon as I put the book down she leaps up onto my lap, knowing that this is the time when I will stroke and smooth her.

0ther dog owners will probably agree with me when I assert that dogs understand words. This is made so clear to me when, whatever the day or time I say “let’s go in the car”. At these magic words Penne will prance, and dance, and sing. She will be wild with excitement until I open the car doors, whereupon she will leap into the back seats of my car.

I know that many dogs like car rides.

I have no clue as to which evolutionary need this meets.

I am also convinced that dogs know the meaning of human words.

If only they could talk back!

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