It really isn’t necessary to go to the zoo or watch the Discovery Channel when you live with three dogs and a cat. You have plenty of opportunity to observe bizarre behavior right in your own back yard.
Portions of my back yard are just dirt…and all the dogs and the cat love to roll around in it and give themselves dust baths, like birds. The dogs also love to roll in leaves, and it’s an extra added attraction if there is something dead buried in the leaves. This must have some evolutionary significance. Possibly, if you smell bad enough, enemy dogs won’t touch you with a ten-foot pole. Survival of the most putrid. At least when the cat takes a dust bath, she spends the next hour cleaning herself.
My dogs also love to eat acorns. This never happened until Fakedog came to live with us a little over three years ago. He brought that habit with him and taught all the other dogs to do it. When it becomes suspiciously quiet in the back yard, I’ll look and they will all three be quietly grazing, as if the yard was a Milkbone patch. Now, you can find articles on the Internet which say that acorns are poisonous to dogs and you should never let them eat them. Others say, well, yes they are poisonous, but the dog would have to eat like five times its body weight to be affected. Here in Fakeworld, no one has died yet. There are some days when I consider that to be most unfortunate.
Another common ritual around here is that when the female dog pees, the two males must race to pee on the same spot. Sometimes they get there at the same time and end up peeing on each other in the process. I’ve read that this is in an effort to disguise the female scent, in case Attila the Hun Dog is lurking nearby and wants to steal and ravish the women of the pack. “Move along!” they are saying. “We have no women here!”
As entertaining as they can be, dogs are really very predictable. Cats are predictable too, but they seem to be more creative. One of my cat’s favorite things to do is groom anything that stands still long enough unless it appears that thing might be edible. The girl dog is all for that, but the males get really squirmy about it, like they don’t want to get cat cooties.
A couple of weeks ago I observed that my cat Stormy was sitting perfectly still by the fence, gazing intently at some object on the ground that I was too lazy to go investigate. After an hour or so, she suddenly leaped a foot in the air, all four feet leaving the ground. You could practically hear her crying, “Eek!” At that point, the girl dog raced in and stole Stormy’s prize, which turned out to be a turtle. A yellow-bellied slider if I’m not mistaken. I made the dog drop the turtle and I took it to the front yard, where it eventually proceeded on its journey.
This week, Stormy became locked in a life and death struggle with a sneaker. She grabbed it by the heel with both front paws and kicked it viciously and repeatedly in the toe with her back feet, while simultaneously biting it on the shoelace. Eventually the sneaker surrendered, or perhaps was killed, allowing Stormy to walk away with what passes for cat dignity.
Next episode: Fighting for a spot on the couch.