Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Optimism, Regarding Being Regarded & Training

Generally speaking, I don't like to be looked at. I've learned that if someone looks at you it means you've been noticed. If you've been noticed, anything could happen. I can't count the number of times I got noticed in school and the next thing you know, a nun was whacking me with a ruler or strap.

If parents notice you, a chore is likely to be assigned. Same deal with a boss at work. Ditto during your domestic years, if your Significant Other happens to find your latest hiding spot.

All-in-all, I've found it best to keep a low profile.

Anyhow, several times a day, Ben looks at me. Unlike cats, dogs don't look at people for no reason. Cats will stare at you because they know it bugs some people and they hope you're one of them. They especially like to stare at people who are afraid of them. Just before they jump into their lap.

It's not so with pooches. Dogs look at you for one reason and one reason only. Which I will get to momentarily. Quit tugging at my leash.

Generally speaking, dogs don't like to be looked at either, but it's not because they have a deeply ingrained fear of nuns - it's that they find direct eye contact challenging. Plus, dogs are genetically incapable of any sort of fakery. They can't lie to save their lives and they know it. If you look at them, and then look at the garbage strewn around the kitchen floor, there's no way they can look you in the eye and say the cat did it. It's flat-out beyond their capabilities. Their eyes scrunch up, their belly hits the floor at the same time the ears flatten against the skull, and the agony of their guilt is so transparent that you've forgiven them while you're still yelling. It's actually a pretty clever defence mechanism.

(A cat, naturally, could be picking his teeth in the middle of the chaos, have remnants of the garbage bag wrapped around his ears and still manage to convince you the dog did it.)


Dogs will only look at you for one reason and that reason is: they want something. Veteran dog owners know that dogs only ever want three things: out, food and walks.

(Some of you smartypantses out there will be saying "that's not one reason" but I'm pretending I can't hear you.)

Dogs are the poster pets of optimism. Which was going to be the main thrust of this entire post until that darn cat got me sidetracked. Because when Ben looks at me and I eventually begin to heave myself out of my chair, he is instantly ecstatic. He prances in front of me, secure in his wee doggie mind that there can only be one reason why I am in motion and that reason is, of course, to satisfy whichever of the three desires that was in the forefront of his aforementioned wee mind.

He's dumbfounded when I go past the "out" door, past the empty food dish and head in the opposite direction of the front hall, where the leash is kept. But he is endlessly patient and only bounces against my leg every other step.

So, I let him out/feed him/go for a walk - depending on the time of day.

I've got him pretty well trained, I think.


Hilary said...

Ben is a darned good liar. Have you forgotten how he's always spotted at the front window while pulling into the driveway but he is ALWAYS at the back window by the time you enter the house, trying to convince you that he's been guarding that back yard all along during your absence? I thought so. ;)

I miss the little fart.

Steve Gravano said...

So true, my gray hound Isabel likes to nudge us to get her ears rubbed. She loves to have her ears rubbed.

Francis said...

"I got him pretty well trained, I think."

I'm pretty sure it's the other way around.

Tabor said...

You have gotten this down exactly! I am allergic to cats and when visiting people with cats...if the cat is not a hermit...it will spend most of the time rubbing against my ankles or angling for a leap into my lap!!

Cay Sehnert said...

Dogs have the ultimate defense against that dreaded rubbing cat syndrome. Rolling around in something terrible works every time, or so the dogs claim.

Reb said...

True about dogs...however, my cat will stare at me if he wants up on my lap, or will just sit and howl, heaven forbid I should do something out of the usual routine in the morning though.

Skunkfeathers said...

Uh, yeah, sure, Frank...you've got Ben trained, alright. Sucker.

The Cat

Travis Erwin said...

A good dog is one of life's true treasures.

Frank Baron said...

Hil, I've decided, upon further contemplation, that Ben isn't actually fibbing when he does that. What happens is, he MEANT to be guarding while his people were absent - but he forgot. When they come home, he suddenly remembers! And hurries off to his appointed task like a dog who has truly earned his next meal. ;)(And I'm quite sure he misses you and Skitty.)

Steve, Ben likes his scratches too. But he doesn't stare at me to get them. He just hops on my lap. Thanks for the visit. :)

Son #1, you are jaded. I dunno where you get that. ;)

Yes, Tabor. They are clever beasties. And diabolical. (And worthy of all praise and they know it.)

Cay, Ben indulges in that canine ecstacy fairly regularly. Salmon carcasses are his specialty, though he won't turn down a well-seasoned rainbow trout, as long as it's putrified.

Reb, I hear you, cats can be tough masters. Luckily, dogs usually let humans have their way.

Thanks, Cat. Hmm...Hey!!!!

Got that right first try, Travis.

Thanks all, for taking the time. :)

Unknown said...

SO true, all of it Frank; good post. My little dog Lexi will stare at me, like your dog, for several of her own reasons. And when I get up, she dances around because she's absolutely convinced I have read her mind. And she's usually right.

Grayquill said...

You had me rolling with laughter. You write way to good or is that well? Either way I really enjoy my visits and when I see you have made a new post I can't wait to get here. I gotta admit I am a little/lot jealous of you, your sense of humor and how you can put in paper is awesome.
Thanks for the laughs. You're the best.

Pauline said...

Laughed all the way through this piece. Haven't had a dog in years but I remember that stare. My cat Parker is no slouch in the stare department and if I don't respond with the correct moves, I get the weave around the legs, let-me-trip-you-up-and-redirect-you treatment. Animals are such grand companions because they are such good examples of how we should behave - eat, sleep, and play!

Thumbelina said...

Yep you sure got him trained Frank. I think.
You made me laugh through that all the way.
Especially about the "i'm not guilty" cat. I got five of them. We have no dog. They blame the fish.
Brill post again.

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

Excellent post, Frank. You really nailed it. I've heard it said that dogs have owners, while cats have staff. I'm not so sure that holds true with Ben.

Frank Baron said...

Jane, sounds like you have Lexi well trained too. ;)

GQ, I wish you wrote all my reviews. ;)

Yes, Pauline. There's sure worse ways to spend a day. We can learn a lot from our critter companions. :)

Thanks, Thumbelina. You're a peach. :)

Ha! Linda, you may have something there. Thanks for taking the time. :)

Dianne said...

I'm sure you have him so well trained ;)

Most of my cats have been very dog like
Siren stares at me and rubs against me when he wants food
the moment I even give a hint of getting up he's on his way to the food drawer

I have had cats that stared at things only they could see but that's a whold different post

give Ben a big hug from me
I love that little guy

Mustbe Gettingold said...

Yep, this is absolutely true. Sometimes I can feel my dog looking at me from across the room and I actively avoid looking back because I know there will be a bounce as soon as I do, and I could not bear to see her tail slowly uncurl and hang flat with disappointment. So, I don't look back until I'm ready to say "yes."

Frank Baron said...

Dianne, I had a dog-like cat once too -- Rudy the hunka-hunka-burnin'-love cat. Pretty sure in his previous life he was a Saint Bernard. And Ben has more than a couple of cat-like habits (which I'll probably get around to writing about sometime).

Ms. G, a droopy tail and soulful eyes do it every time.

Thank you both for the visit and comments. :)

Zuzana said...

Hello Frank, came over from Hilary's POTW, congratulations.;) The title caught my eye as I was writing about optimism myself this Monday.;)
Lovely read about the candid and unpretentious optimism of the canine kind.;) And I so agree with you on the personality of the felines - as a cat owner I know that my cat, Batcat - is Mr. Cool himself.;)
Greetings from Denmark,

Kappa no He said...

When Cha really wants something but I'm into my computer, he'll stand off in the distance so that if I just barely shift my gaze I'll see him. Of course I see him out of the corner of my eye. I like to give him a quick glance and then slowly sink down so he's blocked by the computer screen. Boy, that trick drives him nuts. He'll get up, move over some more so he's back in my line of sight. We play that gave a few times a day.

the Bag Lady said...

The Princess is much too demanding to rely on a simple stare. She uses the imperial grrr. When she wants one of her subjects to do her bidding, she will vocalize a variety of sounds until she gets results.
Obedience training worked wonders on the Rancher.

the Bag Lady said...

Forgot to say congratulations on your POTW!

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Funny post and so true. Congrats on your POTW (but good luck keeping a low profile now!).

laughwithusblog said...

Ha ha! I'm with you on keeping a low profile. Every Thanksgiving/Christmas when it was time to prepare the meal you could find me hiding out in my closet. I guess justice is served though. Now I have to do it all myself.

Unknown said...

Fascinating : )
We had the best dog when I was growing up. I miss him.

Unknown said...

And scratches/love. That might be a part of the one thing they want. I own two "lovemelovemelove" hounds. One wants belly scratches and one wants butt scratches. And they MUST be obeyed.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Congrats on your well-deserved POTW!

Your opening sentence hooked me, and although I had no idea where it would take me, I enjoyed this
post very much. Having once had three cats that totally ran my life, I know exactly what "the look" means. This made me smile.

Cheers, jj

Anonymous said...

This was hilarious! And oh so true.

I have an unusual dog in that he looks at people he likes - really looks at them. This means he wants you to pet and cuddle him.

Moannie said...

Of course you know that you have nudged every one who is owned by a dog to scratch frantically at the itch that yells 'write about me!'

Well done, and well deserved POTW.

Frank Baron said...

Hi Zuzana - great minds think alike. ;)

Terrie, you made me laugh. I play that same game with Ben. Usually, I just have to tilt the newspaper an inch or two at a time and he shifts over -- an inch or two at a time. :)

Baggie, Ben's a little too goofy to pull off "imperious." Maybe when he's older. He's got the nearly-inaudible, hypersonic whine thing going at times, though.

Thank you Elizabeth. :)

I'm sure you do a fine job, laughingwithus. :)

They leave a hole in the heart when they pass, don't they, Kaishon?

Susan, Ben doesn't ask for scratches/rubs. He lets us know when they're due by jumping on the nearest available lap. ;)

Glad you enjoyed, Joanna. Thank you. :)

They sure have their ways of communicating their needs, ladyfi. It's just up to us dim humans to figure them out. :)

Thanks, Moanie.

And thanks to Hilary for hinting that you folks should come for a visit. I'm glad you took her up on it. :)

Cheryl Kohan said...

Oh my gosh, this is PRICELESS! Having had both cats and dogs, I can say with some authority that you have hit the nail on the head.

I need to stop by here more often. I'd love to "follow" you but don't know where to do that...there's no link, is there?

Congratulations on POTW. I'm going to forward this on to my daughter who is a sucker for dogs and cats like nobody else I know. Except maybe you and Hilary.

Coloring Outside the Lines said...

Congrats on POTW, very fun read!

Frank Baron said...

Thanks, Cheryl. I'm not quite sure how the Follower thing works either. But you found me once. You'll trip over me again sometime, I'm sure. :)

Thanks, Arkie.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

thanks for the visit and comments :)

ethelmaepotter! said...

Lordy, you've sure hit the nail on the head, and done it with such a great sense of humor! I have three dogs and one cat - so I can verify that everything you say is absolutely true. last night I came home to find the fresh puppy pee pad I'd left for the dogs SHREDDED, absolutely shredded, its cottony filling turned to white dust that coevred every inch of everything, worse even than drywall dust. I'm still picking up bits of it; it defies beging swept - the stuff is lighter than a feather. And the dogs? As soon as I said, "Whaaaa...? They all tucked their tails between their legs and gave me that guilty-I'm-sorry-I-didn't-know-what-I-was-doing-please-forgive-me-Mommy look.

Of course I did. Rotten dogs.

Just stopped by to say thanks for visiting me! I feel like I already know you; after all, I've 'been' to your cabin many times!

Frank Baron said...

Ditto Gary. :)

ethalmae, I appreciate the return visit and hope we cross paths again. :)

Cheryl Kohan said...

ethelmae just KILLS me!