As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve been taking Guinevere to dog classes on Monday nights for a few months. While the training is a nice benefit, the main reason I take her is for her “social anxiety”. She is afraid of everything and because of that she acts aggressively because she thinks she needs to protect herself from all that everything! She’s doing fairly well and I think we’ll keep going even though she would prefer not to.
Because of this fear, I tend to think of her as not too bright, but I learned a long time ago that she can tell time. YA works mostly nights, usually getting home between 8:30 and 9 p.m. Guinevere knows when that time frame rolls around and she reacts to every noise she hears that might possibly be YA’s car coming home. And take a look at those ears; they hear A LOT. The earlier part of the evening, she is calm but beginning at 8:30, she’s on alert.
I learned Monday night that she also knows the night of the week. I got home from work at the regular time, had a bit of dinner, fed them – all the usual stuff. Then I headed upstairs to watch TV for a bit since we don’t have to leave for class until 6:30 or so. Suddenly at about 6:15, Guinevere started to cry and whine. She was on the bed with me, so she hadn’t hurt herself, she just started to fuss. She kept it up until I put the leash on her and put her in the car, where she was quiet right up until we turned into the parking lot of the dog school. Then she started to cry again – a pitiful cry that makes it sound like I’m sticking her with a hot poker.
Guess I’ll have to revise my thoughts on how smart she is. Now that she knows the nights of the week and how to tell time, it’s probably only a matter of time before she can spell!
Have you had any pets too smart for your own good?
Well, it is Halloween, and it is time to think about cats. We have two. They are considered mysterious and spooky, but to me they are fun and silly. Ours are totally indoor cats. I noticed a tuxedo cat in our yard tonight who ran away when I called it. If it keeps showing up I will see what we need to do about it. Every home needs three cats, don’t you think?
Tell about the cats in your life and your past. What is it about cats that has made people assume cat are associated with the magical?
Today’s post comes from Ben:
I came home and said hello to the dogs. Went out another door and said “Hi” to the dogs again, and then, as one does with dogs, said “Hi Hi Hi”
And then, from the depths of my mind, out of nowhere, sang “Ayi Yi Yi Yi, I am the Frito Bandito”.
I said to myself “Where did that come from??”
Forgotten anything lately?
Remembered anything lately?
As I was turning the corner after leaving the library, I saw a man walking his big dog. Only the big dog was walking up on the retaining wall along the sidewalk. He was walking very steadily on the wall, which was about 2 feet high, negotiating the corner with ease.
I slowed down and called out my car window to the man, asking if his dog likes all retaining walls or just this one. He laughed and said “all walls, but this is his favorite”. He said to have a good day and I drove off.
Tell me about your favorite circus memory!
Two weeks ago, Husband ordered some sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour. Until this point he had been a haphazard, sourdough self starter, making a starter and then discarding it when he felt like it. This time, he bought a deceptively small container with about a tablespoon of starter in it. It has held us captive ever since it arrived.
Husband followed the instructions for starter care religiously. This meant refreshing the starter ever 6-8 hours the first couple of days. This involved taking 4 ounces of the growing starter to which you add 4 ounces of flour and 4 ounces of water. You discard any starter beyond the 4 ounces, saving the discard for pancakes and waffles, or whatever else you want. There are only so many sourdough waffles, pancakes, and biscuits a person can consume every day.
Last weekend we made 10 loaves of a variety of breads. Our freezers are full. I feel trapped in my kitchen by this demanding starter. It reminds me of the man eating plant in Little Shop of Horrors. It is like having a new pet in the house. Husband says he will freeze the starter soon to bring peace and serenity to our home.
What responsibility have you taken on that you have come to regret?
I’ve told the tale of Zorro joining our household before but I’m not sure I have ever told about how smart he was. Here’s one story of his intelligence.
Zorro was a scratcher. I’ve known a lot of cats over the years (other people’s cats) and no one could scratch like Zorro. And he scratched everything: sofa, beds, tables, piano bench, speakers. Everything. I tried every technique you can think of to re-direct him. Multiple kitty scratching posts, catnip spray (to entice him to the posts), cans with pennies, squirt bottles, double-sided tape, aluminum foil, bitter apple spray. I even tried little shields that you put onto the kitty’s claws. Take it from me, don’t try this. You’ll get damaged doing it and within 24 hours, the kitty will have chewed half of them off.
I know that de-clawing a cat is an awful thing to do. I know exactly what they do and I know that many vets will not do the procedure. I had a long talk with my vet and as much as I loved Zorro, it was coming down to keeping Zorro without claws or having to find Zorro a new home. This was a terrible decision and I flip-flopped back and forth for over a month. But he was literally scratching his way through the house. The day I caught him scratching the piano leg (ignoring the kitty post that was 12” from him), I knew I had to act.
Suffice it to say that it was a rough surgery and he ended up staying at the vet two extra days so that they could keep him contained and quiet. After he got home, he limped for two weeks, breaking my heart with every step. I knew I was going straight to kitty-owner’s hell. Then one afternoon, I was standing in the kitchen and from where I was located, I could see Zorro up on the buffet in the dining room, but he didn’t see me. He jumped down and walked toward the kitchen with no limp whatsoever. As he crossed the threshold into the kitchen, he looked up and saw me; he immediately sat down and lifted up his “sore” paw. I snorted at him and told him he was busted; he must have heard my intonation or maybe he just knew the gig was up. He never limped again.
So all those folks who think cats aren’t smart because they can’t be trained like a dog, I say, you didn’t know Zorro!
Have you ever been scammed?
I came home from work yesterday at 10:00 am. Friday is my short work day. Husband asked as I came into the house “How about going to Bismarck to the zoo today”? I said yes, and off we went.
We haven’t been to the Bismarck zoo for years, not since our daughter was little. It was a fun day made really special by watching a zoo keeper train bobcats. They are trained, with raw meat treats, to follow verbal commands like sit, paws up, follow the target, and go in your crate. She also exposed them to sprays from a bottle of fly spray so they would tolerate the spraying. Raising one’s paw above one’s head allows zoo keepers to check paw pads for cracks or injuries, and underbellies for impending kittens or too much weight gain. Rufus, the bobcat male, loves being trained and is really good at all the commands. Ginger, the female, is a bit stubborn. Rufus hates the spray bottle. He very willingly went in his crate, an important skill to have if you need to go to the vet.
What a fun job! The zoo keeper paired the command and its successful completion with a loud click and a morsel of raw meat. I don’t fully approve of zoos, but I see their purpose in protecting endangered species. I would love to train bobcats! I wonder how they train the primates?
How do you feel about zoos? What are your experiences in training animals?