Jul 18, 2009

You Pushed Me!!

Ever notice that when an animal does something clumsy or stupid, they always think that it was the person physically closest to them that is responsible for what happens to them? I've been giving this some thought lately (as if I don't have enough to do without my mind going off on yet another useless tangent) and I think I have figured out why this is: animals have no sense of self. Now I can't speak for any of the higher primates, like apes or chimps, as I have never spent enough time around any of them to see one trip or fall down a flight of stairs or roll off of a bed and so have no idea if the chimp will instantly look to the nearest human or another chimp in the belief that that second individual caused them harm, but I know for a fact that my cat and both dogs do it every time they do something dumb. And often painful. And this is because they have no concept of themselves. Thus it never occurs to them that they fell down or ran face first into a piece of furniture, but because they do have a sense of those around them, it instantly becomes the responsibility of the nearest human that the pet has been toppled.

I can't count how many times I have been sitting on a bed while Maia Louise has lain languidly next to me, stretched out to her full length, belly and feet up in the air in a most unladylike manner and in rolling onto her side has instead slowly rolled herself right off the bed and onto the floor with a heavy thud. This is then followed with her jumping back onto the bed just long enough to give me "the look": a mix of disgust, outrage and anger coupled with utter disbelief that someone who professes to love her so much could be so cruel as to shove her right off the bed while she slept. And then with a vicious flick of her tail, she'll storm from the room. Mini versions of "the look" continue for several hours to several days, depending on how long she feels like holding a grudge over this incident.

Just the other day Griffin and I were in the kitchen making lunch, while the boys waited patiently for theirs. The step stool was about three feet to Griffin's right and Bram an equal distance to his left. When Bram started to run around Griffin's legs (as hyper as usual), Griffin stepped aside so he didn't step on such a tiny dog. Bram then ran face first into the stool, knocked himself over backwards, and with a loud screech took off into the living room where he hid under the couch and no amount of coaxing could lure him out, though I finally managed to drag him out to be sure he wasn't hurt (he wasn't). Now I know for a fact that Griffin was several feet from that stool before Bram crashed into it, and was still several feet away when Bram got himself tangled in it at high speed, but here we are many days later and Bram is still convinced that Griffin kicked him into the stool just for the sheer fun of it. Whenever Griffin comes anywhere near Bram, or even into the same room as Bram, he gives Griffin a look like, "you're that horrible guy that kicked me into that stool!" and runs from the room with his tail between his legs. And then I have a choice of either going and finding where he's hidden himself or waiting for him to come back only when he's good and sure that Griffin is long gone. How long this will last is anyone's guess. He's already surpassed the cat with his refusal to be reasonable.

If they can't see themselves and thus can't see the part they play in their own goofiness, the least they could do is speak enough English to understand when we explain to them that it wasn't us, it was them.

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