Many times people search for human attributes in their pets or the pets of others. As humans, we tend to anthropomorphize these pets, or assign human attributes to beasts not capable of cognizant thought. And, it’s almost a cliché that people resemble their pets. You know the drill; it is easy to conjure up the image of George C. Scott playing Patton in the movie of the same title, and his dog.
In the last scene of the movie Patton (Scott) is walking his (looks too much like him to be real) bull terrier named Willie. In his always grandiose fashion, Scott talks about how the returning warriors of ancient Rome were vetted with grand parades and much fanfare. The final words of the film are, "A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning, that all glory is fleeting.”
Willie, looking too much the part of an overdeveloped weight lifter marches proudly forward at the end of a slack leash a step ahead of Scott and the camera pans back to leave us this image of man and dog inseparably ensconced in our psyche -- man and his dog look and act remarkably the same.
Your weekly columnist is subject to fits of fancy and will anthropomorphize certain traits of his animals.
Having an entire cacophony of pets from which to draw, the analysis continues.
In no particular order, except perhaps in some arbitrary ranking from slightest to mightiest, or more realistically from skinniest to fattest, I analyze.
Garth is the most recent addition to our pet menagerie. I am adamant because he only has three legs he be relegated to living his life as a house cat. The scope of his experiences are therefore limited, and as a result his character traits and those I am apt to anthropomorphize are somewhat abridged.
Garth has an aversion to the sound of running water. This aversion stems from his having to suffer through a through cleansing at the bottom of a deep sink after he had the misfortune of having soiled himself while confined. You would have thought we were torturing the poor animal by the sounds he produced during that shower.
Garth likes to follow you around and like many animals looks to you for food first, and attention second. When someone goes into the bathroom, he will loiter outside the door but will not venture inside because of the Pavlovian imprint of abject fear of the place.
Garth is also the most continually vocal member of the family save Paris, when someone comes up the driveway and she goes off like a burglar alarm. Garth is probably the neediest of the lot. Because of these traits, I imagine Garth to be the feline analog of a very vocal, needy child. Not annoyingly so, mind you. His bright round “owl like” eyes elicit feelings of inquisitiveness instead of wiseness. Perhaps because he is still in the early stages of his learning, he will develop an entirely different demeanor as time marches on. So, Garth, you are the ever inquisitive, vocal, needy child. Your antics and affections are endearing. We watch with wonder your development and remain entertained by your innocence and playfulness.
How’s that for finding human traits in our pets? I’ll continue.
Wink is our white and pink one eyed cat. Wink is an opportunist. Maybe all hunters are opportunists? For fact she is a hunter.
I was on the front porch yesterday basking in the late afternoon spring sun when I noticed Wink out in the yard. She was standing perfectly still, looking very much like a ceramic casting of a cat in hunting pose. She was staring intently at the ground a few feet in front of her. There is a hole in the ground where one of the big dogs had been frantically digging for moles. There has been some mole activity in that part of the yard already this spring. All at once she sprang about four feet in the air and landed on what I imagined to be the exact spot she was so intently watching. She did not come up with a prize; instead she was looking around as if wondering where the mole went.
I have already found a couple dead moles this year close to the house. I’m not certain if the dogs are the champions, or if the opportunist finished the labors of the dogs by capturing the prey.
Wink is at best ambivalent regarding affection. Although she likes being close to her humans at times, when she chooses, her need to be stroked and loved is limited. It’s almost likes she tolerates the attention for a few seconds, dips her body away from you in an escape posture, and moves on.
Wink is like the fiercely independent child. Well groomed and stately, she moves around the house and property with seasoned grace and self assuredness. Attaching human characteristics to her, and perhaps even child like attributes, she would be every parent’s dream – independent, resourceful, intelligent and low maintenance.
Wow, I’ve only moved through the human-like characteristics of two of the five resident pets here at Gilly Hollow and already I’m running out of space. Some times it’s hard to squeeze a thousand words out of the puny space between my ears, and other times, especially when I am being passionate, the words just flow. The good thing about all of this is now I have the subject for my column next week, where I will continue with the dogs.
Some parting words: It’s about time you become the person your dog already believes you to be!
Until next time--
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In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2011 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342.