Sunday, December 28, 2008

Question #2

Question #2 has been: "Has Z-Dog tried to eat Z-Man yet?"

Those of you who know Zo know that he's... well... let's be charitable and call him a "one family dog." Loyal as the day is long, would do anything for M. and me, but everyone else had better be careful around him. He requires very careful handling from strangers. If you show one ounce of fear, it's game over, and you're on his watch list forever. But if you've been around big dogs before and assume he's just a lap dog on steroids who's only concern is who is going to scratch his butt, then you'll do okay, but only after you've proven yourself.

He has mellowed over the years, and lately he's been a lot quicker to get used to folks.

But still... a hairless ape crawling all over his domain has got to look a lot more like The Other White Meat than Dog's Best Friend, right?

Well, they're not snuggling up together in front of the fireplace quite yet, but the two seem to be heading in the right direction. For the first two days, Zo would bark at the little munchkin whenever he heard him banging away. But Z's failure to acknowledge that he was in fact the target of said barking moved him from "Potential Domestic Terrorist" to "Too Dumb to be Much of a Threat" in short order. Now Zo just stares at the little booger, wondering why this newbie isn't sleeping the garage or going outside to poop or any of the other things that a proper new animal should be doing in this family.

Meanwhile, Molly just thinks Z. is the most interesting smelling thing she's ever found. No nook or crany of his is safe from her inspection. If I could train her to stomp a foot when he needs a diaper change (one stomp for wet, two stomps for #2 would be nice), then we'd be in business.

Grace (aka the Graceless One, Fatty, Momma Cass, the Lump, the Tubby Tabby) seems to think Z. has potential as a buddy. She's checking him out, letting him chase her, staying just an arm's length out of reach. Crash doesn't care much for anyone who doesn't provide extra body heat for her apres-dinner nap, so she's ambivalent to the whole thing.

I know this next part is going to reveal my ignorance of the infant species, but I'll say it anyway, since that point has been made time and time again in the last week. I am simply amazed by Z's reaction to the animals. He's fascinated by all of them, and all of them equally. The big dogs are awesome, in the true sense of the word — he will just stare at them when they are sleeping, playing, walking, or whatever, without a trace of fear or concern. And the cats amaze him. They're here, and then they're there, so quietly and quickly... how did they do that? No electronic device of flashing lights, buzzes, and animation can compete with a cat that walks in view. He'll fling a full bottle over his shoulder and squirm to get out of my arms to go see what the cat is doing.

But why? Why is a real dog so intriguing to him, in a way that a person or stuffed animal or toy is not?

Now, for folks who have had kids for a while now, the answer is simple: because kids love dogs and cats. That why they ask for pets, that's why they like stuffed animals. Just because. But I don't get it. Why? Why would a kid like a big, hairy, potentially scary animal who is capable of chowing him down like a handful of so many beernuts? Has evolution wired us for some sort of domestic care-taking duty that plays out in an affection for critters of all shapes and sizes? Wouldn't it be smarter for Caveman Baby to be afraid of everything on four legs until he's big enough to sharpen his own spear?

What does a baby's affection for a 165 pound dog with big pointy teeth tell us about our humanity?

1 comment:

Bill and Midge said...

Steve, great posts. It is wonderful to watch the world through the eyes of a child. Its fun to watch children through the eyes of a pet too!