Anyone who thinks dogs don’t reason hasn’t observed them very closely. The other day, on a ride, my dog Tuffy caught a young rabbit. She carried it victoriously in her mouth all the way home, but before reaching the yard, disappeared with it somewhere near the round pen. She re-emerged a bit later, rabbit-less, but with the satisfied air of a dog who had safely stashed her catch.
This morning I fed the dogs their breakfast at day-break, after which Tuff wanted out. She was away an inordinately long time, seeing she knows that the morning routine is coffee and perhaps a shared cookie or two. After a while I thought I’d better call her. I called and called, and eventually Nancy’s dogs in the yard next to mine began barking furiously. Then Tuff appeared from behind their fence, a small, busy, furry silhouette in the semi darkness, ignoring me, and trotting swiftly past the house and down to the lower corrals by the creek. No amount of calling brought her back until some good ten minutes later, when she suddenly appeared, dawdling along the front of my yard wall, somewhat like Prissy in “Gone With the Wind”, heading slowly for the front door. As soon as she came within smelling distance, I recognized the scenario. She had obviously gone out to love and roll on her rabbit, evidently found that some small animal of the night had enjoyed him also, and had prudently decided to move him to a safer location. So now he is stashed somewhere near the bull corral – where, hopefully, the resident bobcat will find him today and he will be no more – I can’t stand too many mornings with eau de dead rabbit!!
But it made me think about dogs – she had hidden her prize, remembered it in the morning, found it, reasoned it wasn’t safe, took it and hid it someplace else. That’s memory, realization of what took place, planning and execution of a plan – if that isn’t intelligence, I don’t know what is! I think that the world would be more logical if ruled by dogs – possessions would be clearly defined, and there would be no ulterior or hidden motives. And so, is the reason why ”Animal Farm” ends the way it does, because the eventual ruling class, the pigs in the story, are too human like?? A world ruled by dogs would be safer – if you don’t like the way it smells, kill it and hide it, and if it appeals to you, lick it and love it. Lot less complicated!! Someone sent me an e-mail recently, illustrating the world of dogs: “If you can’t play with it or eat it, pee on it and walk away”. May be a better way to run the world! There are a lot of situations right now I would like to subject to that treatment.
There are so many funny things that dogs do, too. Years ago we had a Border Collie called Molly. Molly loved riding in our ranch hay feeding vehicle, a Gator, which could be left in gear (but should not be, as this will illustrate) while you got out to open a gate or whatever. One time Danny and Gerry were out doing some fence work, and Gerry got out, leaving it in gear. Molly, who had been running alongside, decided that she’d had enough of walking, and jumped in. Unfortunately, she landed on the gas pedal, and Danny, who had been peacefully looking over the countryside out his side, suddenly found himself being transported at a fairly rapid clip straight for a ditch. It took quite a bit of maneuvering for him to wrestle Molly off the pedal, reach the controls and get stopped.
Still on the subject of the animal world, I am slowly saying au revoir to my flock of hummingbirds. I think as more and more generations of them are born here, more and more begin to appreciate the sugar water provided, and this summer I have gone through some 20 lbs. of sugar! The feeder has to be filled every day, sometimes twice a day, but the resultant joy and commotion around it are worth the effort. I can come out and stand by the feeder and within seconds the little guys are back, darting around my head, whirring behind and in front of me, totally unafraid and trusting. Of course, I must add that closer study reveals the fact that they are quite nasty to each other! Not too often can two of them enjoy a side by side feeding – lots of quarrelling, whizzing around, squawking, chirping – luckily the feeder is big enough that there can be, at times, up to four of them to sit and slurp, separated by the required territorial distance. And now that Fall is here, they are probably beginning to think of filing their flight plans for the southern regions. Someone once told me that when they do fly away, they fly as far as South America, and that they often hitch a ride on the back of a bigger bird. If there is someone out there who can enlighten me on this, I would love to hear about it! The sugar bats, also now passing through on their way south, are discovering this wayfarers’ feeding station as well, and mixing sugar water three times a day is beginning to loom on my horizon.
I rode my new horse, Harvi, last Monday. What a gentleman! His last owner, Jim, had trained him well. He stands politely while I get on, waits for the command to go, and in general is quite a delight. I must add that all my horses do this after some discussions on the subject on their first arrival here, but it’s nice to find one that already has all the rudiments of good manners. On the other hand, he is, I think, already almost 16 hands tall, and takes enormously long steps so that you feel you’re riding a camel. When I came back from a three hour ride, I felt as if I’d rowed a boat upstream a long river – every step he took made my back sway and my whole body jiggle. I loped him out – he was not too bad on the left lead, but felt as if he had three triangular wheels instead of legs on the right lead. I don’t think he’s been out in the country before – all his work was done in an arena, so I am sure all this will straighten out in time. And, being four years of age, and likely to grow until he is seven, soon I will need a mounting block to dismount as well as to mount!
As this is the Breast Cancer Awareness Week, the ranch gift shop is donating 25% of the sales of the Breast Cancer T-Shirts to the cause, and even the horses are wearing the pink ribbon of the campaign. It’s such a worthy cause that hopefully many people will get behind it and put this curse behind us. In the photo attached, wrangler Annie and horse Sugar show their support for the cause.
This blog appears to have been almost totally devoted to the animal kingdom – but what better! In a world in turmoil, watching them live their life one moment at a time, tasting each to the full, makes my own life slow down to a more peaceful pace.