Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Animal Behaviour

Here is how a desperate for material columnist works - he combines two recent posts into one delightful column!  Then it's off to the editor we go, tra la is the result:

Recent scientific studies into the behaviour of various animal species (Crawford, et al, 2010) have shown some interesting results.  Allow me to share some pre-publication insights into recent discoveries.

I read somewhere that it is a great time saver if you wash your pet by taking it into the shower with you.  This technique worked well with our dearly departed dog Lucy, so I figured I would try the same thing with one of our tiny, adorable, smelly kittens.

As a new cat owner I did not know that dog rules of thumb do not necessarily translate to cat ownership.  One of the things I learned pertains to a cat’s mental state when it becomes trapped in a confined space with water squirting upon it.  This mental state is commonly known as ‘psychotic.’ 

My experience with dogs in the shower had taught me that my caring and gentle touch was comforting to the animal as I held it in my loving arms.  These canine experiences produced droopy eyes and a sad look (the dog), not wild screeching, slashing, or using razor-sharp talons to climb tile walls, glass walls, or anything else nearby (the cat and me, respectively).  

I was somewhat taken aback by this. 

In the blink of an eye I had gone from loving and caring pet owner to slashed and profusely bleeding pile of shredded flesh, whimpering and gasping on the floor of the shower, in awe of the speed at which a young kitten can maneuver.  I was also stunned at how long it takes a bellowing human being, lapsing into shock (me) to open a shower door to effect the animals escape.

There are pluses and minuses to everything in life, however, and this experience is no different.

On the down side, I am unable to donate any blood products for the next several years, which is unfortunate since my next donation will earn me a nice certificate.

The plus side?  Greater knowledge of topical anesthetics, suturing techniques, and a free vasectomy.  So that’s nice.

More insight into animal behaviour has come from the equine arena.  My daughter had foolishly been promised a summer camp in which she would be able to interact with animals.  Since the cheaper hamster-riding class was booked up, I was now taking her to an expensive horse-riding school. 

When I dropped her off at the ranch we had some time to kill, so we wandered over to the coral or pen or whatever they call it, where I learned fairly quickly that it had an electrified fence. 

Never having been around horses much, let me also inform you that a horse is not an animal you want to shake a paw with.  Nor is it advisable to stand behind the horse and make humourous bear or coyote sound effects for the amusement of your offspring. 

Horses also have a keen sense of humour, which can include nudging people who are discretely relieving themselves behind a barn, such that the nudged person directs their stream onto electrified fences. 

These experiences have taught me many valuable lessons, and interacting with animals is a wonderful part of my life.  Just thinking of animals can be therapeutic to me. 

For instance, I think of cats whenever I light the barbecue.    

I also think of horses as the glue that can hold a family together. 

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