Sunday, February 15, 2009
Pets and Personalities
Perry occasionally watches television. Here, he's watching Meerkat Manor on Animal Planet. He's only really into educational programming. Easy is more of a General Hospital kind of dog. Perry also dials the telephone. If he can access a handset, he will repeatedly punch in numbers then wait for the audible call failure signal. Then, he'll dial again. For the amusement of our guests, we put the phone on the floor and say "Hey Perry! Want to call your lawyer? Go ahead, call your lawyer." And dial he does, every time. When we leave the house we make sure all the phones are in their cradles. We realized that he might call Korea or Bali or someplace really far away. We are afraid that if we received a bill for a call like that that we'd never be able to convince the phone company to remove the charges because our dog had made the call. We do realize that if the dogs need to call 911 while we are out that it could be a problem. Easy would be completely dependent upon Perry for an emergency call. She could never dial the phone. She's just not intelligent enough in that kind of way. She's not a technical person. Perry is brilliant. However, he is sort of aloof. He's not an emotionally very connected dog. In fact, he's more like a cat than a dog (he's even more like a cat than our cat!). We've often remarked that if Perry were human, he would probably be diagnosed with Autism - Asperger's Syndrome or something. He shows clear areas of very high intelligence, but emotional detachment. He does not depend upon nor need humans for any reason. Easy, on the other hand is emotionally very needy. We call her 'Easy' because she is not easy at all. Her area of expertise is being cute. She really knows how to work a room full of people, sort of like a beautiful, neurotic movie star. She's demanding, needy, dependent, and clingy. She has to be with me at all times, under my feet. She barks incessantly. Perry rarely barks at all. He is only inclined to do so for some really compelling provocation like a turkey or a moose. Easy barks if the wind blows, or a leaf falls or the phone rings. In fact, when I try to talk on the phone she looks right at me and barks, demanding my attention. How dare I be talking to someone other than her! As a dog owner, it pains me to admit that many times, I've had to lock myself in a bathroom in order to talk with a girl friend on the phone. The dog will sit outside the door, continuing to bark at me, too. My kids used to do that to me, too. But, I was able to teach them not to, or at least, I waited them out, and they left home. So, I was eventually able to have peace while on the phone. But, not anymore. I know I should have more control over the dog, but truthfully, I don't. I never taught Perry to dial the phone. He just did it on his own. When I give him the phone and ask if he wants to call his lawyer, it's not a command from me. He already knew how to do it. It just looks like I taught him something tricky. It's actually he who trained me. I admire people who have perfectly trained dogs, hunting dogs, dogs that do agility courses flawlessly, etc. And, I've always felt that it is a positive thing for people to have relationships with other species (Personally, I gravitate toward mammals; I've never really understood the Boa Constrictor/Iguana/glowering Parrot attraction). But, I have to admit: I'm a lazy pet owner. I don't have what it takes to ride herd on them all the time, to be 'THE BOSS.' I'm a pack dog, not an alpha dog. And, I need them to love me, to look at me balefully with bottomless desire. I too, am a needy, neurotic star in my own mind with odd intelligences and bursts of inconsistent brilliance. And one day, I may need them to dial 911.