Cindy

Cindy looking alert.
Cindy looking alert.

It was a warm sunny day today so I stole half an hour to sit in the back garden. Hubby took Cindy to the leash free park and as usual when she had retrieved her tennis ball enough times she dashed off to the river for a swim. I rubbed her down and sat outside with her so she’d dry off a bit more before going back inside.

Pavlov’s Dogs – Funny Things Pets Do

Cindy has two beds, one at each end of the house but she still prefers ours.
Cindy has two beds, one at each end of the house but she still prefers ours.

 

This afternoon I had to go out for a short while and as I was about to leave the house our dog Cindy came and sat on her dog bed and waited expectantly. As usual she was waiting for a treat. When Cindy was a young dog she used to get very upset if Hubby and I went out without her. As soon as we’d shut the glass sliding door at the back of the house she’d start leaping up and down and getting very upset. In order to calm her down we did what we’d found worked with our previous dogs, we gave her treats. We soon found that the treat she liked best was a handful of  “Goodoes”. It worked and over time she came to associate our leaving the house with her getting a treat so she would rush to the back door then sit waiting for it.  It was only supposed to  happen if we were leaving her alone but after a while Cindy decided that it should happen whenever either of us left the house even if the other one was still at home. So that’s why, when she realised I was going out, she was there waiting  for that handful of treats. I don’t like her to have too many treats as she is part labrador and will eat anytime so usually she only gets them if we’re going somewhere.

I can’t help finding this little trick of Cindy’s amusing and it got me thinking about the other things that our pets learn from us. Most dogs know the meanings  of several words apart from the ones we teach them like “Sit”, “Stay” etc. Who hasn’t tried spelling out “W.A.L.K” only to find that the dog knows what that means as well. They seem to learn words like “Sausage” and “Biscuit” very easily. Cindy’s vocabulary also includes “Letterbox” because she considers it a huge treat to go to the end of the driveway with me to get our mail.

Of course dogs can recognise non verbal cues too. Dogs always seem to know that putting on shoes or wearing certain clothing means you are going out as well as the obvious picking up of bags and keys. My sister, who wears a uniform to work, says that her dogs know if she puts on the clothes she wears around the house that she is staying home with them. Recently we bought a new letterbox which we keep padlocked and Cindy quickly learned that when I pick up a certain set of keys we’re going to get the post. She is eight now so apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Most pets, cats as well as dogs, seem to know that a suitcase means that their human is going away. Dogs get mopey, cats, well I don’t know if it upsets them but they know. I can remember one occasion when Hubby and I were going on a trip when we sneaked out of the house with our suitcases because one of our cats had the habit of following us to the railway station meowing piteously all the way. He might have been saying “Don’t leave me!” but it could also have been “Where’s the can opener?” I guess. This particular cat, a big ginger named Peter, also worked out how the trains worked. He’d sometimes follow me to the station in the morning, once even coming onto the platform and rubbing himself up against waiting passengers. (I pretended I didn’t know him.) In the afternoons he would occasionally be waiting for me on the platform on the opposite side of the tracks. How he knew that was the one I’d arrive on I don’t know.

Cats are smart and they quickly learn the behaviours that get our attention. Honestly sometimes I wonder who is training who? We used to have canaries at one time and the cats were taught, mostly by means of squirt bottle of water, that they must not go after the birds. Mostly they didn’t but one of them, if her cries for dinner were ignored for too long would jump onto the kitchen bench near enough to get to the cage. She was obviously saying “If you don’t give me something to eat soon I’ll get my own.” because it was the only time she ever did it.  She also learned, this was in the 80s, that food came out of microwaves so instead of meowing at the fridge she’d meow at the microwave. My sister has a cat with a sense of humour, when I visit he likes to jump onto my chair the minute I get out of it. Last time I was there he came into the room unseen by either my sister or I and jumped onto my seat which I’d vacated for a few minutes. I nearly sat on him!

 Further Reading:

http://psychology.about.com/od/classicalconditioning/a/pavlovs-dogs.htm

Daily Prompt: Mind Reader

Do Dogs Count?

Who’s the last person you saw before reading this prompt? Whether it’s a family member, a coworker, or a total stranger, write a post about what that person is thinking right now.

 

I sit up late most nights while Hubby generally turns in much earlier. It’s after midnight here in Australia and if he’s not asleep right now he’s probably thinking about that nightly excursion to the bathroom. The last family member I saw before checking WordPress tonight was Cindy the dog.

As I sat hugging her with one arm and crying over the Beagle Freedom Project video I’d just seen on Facebook she licked my cheek and put her paws round me. Not because I was crying, Cindy is a hugger, it’s how she tells us she loves us. Her thoughts were probably something along the lines of , “It’s really late now and instead of sitting looking at this thing on the desk it would be nice if you went to bed so that I could curl up near your feet. I know you won’t go for ages though so I’ll just go and sleep on your armchair until you are ready.”

And she did.

Cindy sleeping.
Cindy sleeping.

 

Daily Prompt: Make Me Smile

If you’re feeling blah, what is the one thing you do that you can count on to put a smile on your face?

It's always fun to watch pets playing.
It’s always fun to watch pets playing.

When I’m feeling blah there is one thing that can always make me smile and that is the antics of our pets. No matter how many times I’ve seen it before their funny little habits will bring a smile to my face. I know I’m not alone in that judging by all the funny pet photos and videos you see on social media.

When our cat Polly was a kitten she played with this toy all the time but I never got tired of watching her. She also likes to try to catch the pendulum on our mantel clock. It’s naughty of her but I can’t help finding it funny. Of course very young animals are especially amusing to watch because everything is new to them. I love watching Polly playing with Cindy our dog too. Cindy is much bigger and stronger but Polly will spring at her and play bite her on the leg or the side of her face while Cindy tries to knock her off-balance with her paw. They often play this game and I nearly always stop what I’m doing to watch them.

Cindy relaxing with Polly sleeping in what was her favourite spot as a tiny kitten.
Cindy relaxing with Polly sleeping in what was her favourite spot as a tiny kitten.

I think that it is one of the reasons that pets are used so often as therapy for people who are lonely or depressed. They amuse us, they make us feel less stressed and with dogs in particular their enthusiasm for life is infectious.

Hubby takes Cindy down to a local park where there is an off leash area and every time she whimpers with excitement as they approach the park.  When she jumps out of the car she is so excited that she just has to run about for a few minutes before coming back to ask for a game of ball. She loves to chase balls but sometimes Hubby only pretends to throw one and she runs about searching and wagging her tail like mad until she cottons on to what he’s up to and comes back. Hubby always has a supply of cheap tennis balls in the car because Cindy either loses them or breaks them. When she has had enough of the game she runs down to the river’s edge and plunges in to cool off, quite often taking the ball with her then she comes running back and jumps into the back of the station wagon as if to say “Let’s go home now”. We never taught her to do it, she just does.

image dog in car
Cindy loves going to the dog park
image sleeping cat
“To sleep perchance to dream”

Even watching animals sleeping is funny sometimes. You see their legs twitch and sometimes they make sounds. What are they dreaming about? Wouldn’t you love to know?  Watching our  pets always takes my mind of my troubles.

 

Our Other Fur Kid

Cindy

Today I thought I would give our dog Cindy her five minutes of fame. We have had her since 2006 so she will be eight years old in March. Cindy loves to run, to chase balls and play with toys.

She loves it when she is taken to the off leash park near our home. She runs around for a while then asks to play ball. When she’s had enough she races into the river to cool off then back to the car where she jumps straight into the back. We didn’t teach her to do that but she always jumps back in the car when she is ready to go home. She does enjoy meeting other dogs and people but when she is at the park the ball comes first.

Cindy is very affectionate and loves to sit on hubby’s lap even though she doesn’t really fit. Every morning she wakes me up by licking me to let me know she wants to go outside. She took great care of Polly when she was a tiny kitten and the two of them still enjoy playing together. Despite the size difference I never worry Polly will be hurt because Cindy is so gentle with her. Polly on the other hand will try to pounce on Cindy or bite her on the leg, all in fun of course.

If people come to our house she gets very excited and barks a lot.  I know that some people are nervous of large dogs and she does appear to be fierce with her big bark and the way her hackles rise but as Hubby says, Cindy is just wired wrong. I put her out of the way or hold on to her when I answer the door but once she has met the people she calms down at once. She especially likes tradesmen and luckily most of them like her too. A local courier who often delivers packages to us greets her by name whenever he brings something now.

Cindy is part labrador so she likes to go down rubbish bins. I’ve learned to put them where she can’t get them. She will steal the cat food so that has to be out of reach too. On the other hand it is easy to give her tablets because she thinks she’s getting a treat 🙂 . She has her funny little ways. For example if I am home I must be the one to let her outside. Even if she wants to go she won’t if Hubby opens the door but if I’m away she will go out quite happily for him. Sometimes I go away for the weekend and if Hubby drives me to Hobart to catch the bus Cindy won’t sleep on our bed until I come back. However, if she sees me catch the local bus she will. It’s as if Hubby is being punished for taking me away.I’ve always thought she was more his dog than mine because she cries when he goes out and sits by the back door till he comes back but she sleeps on my side of the bed or on the floor beside me, she likes to come and lie on the floor in the doll room if I’m in there doing something  and when I’m on the computer in the evening she is usually nearby so I guess she loves us both equally.

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Saved! – A Cat’s Story

I’ve written before about our cat in my post “Along Came Polly“. I have often wondered how she came to be where we found her, was she dumped, did she wander away from home? We’ll never know.

Today is the first anniversary of her arrival and to mark it I’ve written the story from a cat’s point of view.

Polly’s Story

My story begins a year ago. I was a kitten and the first few weeks of my life had passed uneventfully. My mother took care of me and my siblings and while we stayed safely in our bed in the garage our mother would go to the house where the humans lived to get food; when she came back there would be milk for us. The young humans from the house would sometimes come and look for us and sometimes mother would allow them to hold us.

Then things changed, one day the humans all got into their car and drove away. They left a bowl of water and a bowl of food for mother. She ate some and as there was plenty we had some too.  The humans didn’t come back though and after a while there was no more food in the bowl. Mother started leaving us to hunt for food.

I don’t know how long this went on but soon we were hungry most of the time. There wasn’t much milk anymore and it was a long time to wait for mother to come back with whatever she had caught. None of us felt very well, we started to cough and sneeze and our eyes were sore.

One morning I was so hungry I decided to find mother so I could get a drink of milk. I left the garage and set off to look for her.

I looked and looked but I couldn’t find her anywhere. I hadn’t realised that Outside was so big. It was hot too and I was getting tired and thirsty. After a while I saw a big house. Humans live in houses and humans have food so I decided I would go and look there. Before I could find any food I was frightened by some huge angry birds. They were black and had sharp beaks and cruel eyes. I thought they might peck me so I hid in some bushes.

The sun seemed to be hotter than ever and I stayed hidden in the bushes where I felt safer. I wished that I had stayed with my brothers and sisters after all. After a while I heard the sound of a car and then humans talking.

“Please help me!” I cried “I’m hot and thirsty and I want my mother.”

The humans seemed to understand and called out “Kitty, kitty, kitty!”

Slowly I crept out from under the bushes so that they could see me. I couldn’t see them very well because one of my sore eyes was stuck shut.

I was picked up and carried inside the building. One of the humans gave me a bowl of cool water. I drank it thirstily.

Soon another human arrived and took me to a house. There was a dog there; as soon as she saw me she washed me with her great big tongue. I didn’t mind, I could tell that she wouldn’t hurt me. I was given food too, it tasted so good.

The humans took good care of me. Whenever I cried they fed me or held me and after a few days I wasn’t frightened anymore. They took me to the vet to get medicine for my cold and they put stuff in my eyes to make them better. I soon let them know when I’d had enough of that though. When I was tired I would curl up with Cindy the dog. After a while the humans started to call me Polly and I knew then that they would let me stay. I started to think of them as my humans.

Today I’m grown up and I am very happy with my life. I have a nice home with plenty to eat and lots of toys to play with. Sometimes I go Outside and lie on the warm ground in the sun but soon my humans chase me back inside. They don’t like me to go out there. They are probably afraid that the birds will get me.

Polly, Christmas Day 2013
Polly, Christmas Day 2013
These are all mine!
These are all mine!

 

 

Along Came Polly

A Post About My Cat

Next week our cat Polly will celebrate her first birthday.

Actually we don’t know when Polly was born. I found her at the church near our home on a boiling hot day in early January. We think that she was about 8 weeks old then so her birthday must be somewhere around now.

The day I found her I was talking to the church Youth Leader outside when we both heard loud meowing. I could tell that it was a kitten and as we couldn’t see where it was I called and after a couple of minutes a bedraggled little creature with one eye shut tight crept out from under the bush where she had taken shelter.

I don’t know how long she had been there. The evening before there had been a barbecue at the church for the men’s group but none of them had seen or heard a kitten. Someone may have dumped her after they left or maybe she strayed there by herself although as there are few houses close by I doubted that.

image kitten
This is Polly the day she arrived looking a sorry sight.

After giving her some water I called my husband and asked him to come and take her back to our house and feed her. At that stage I wasn’t thinking of keeping her as I knew that Jake, our cat, would not want a strange cat in the house, even a tiny one. I hoped that we would find her a home with one of the church congregation.

I didn’t see what happened when David got home with Polly but he told me about it later. He had brought her in and put her down while he got some cat food out. Our dog Cindy came up to see what he had brought in and immediately gave Polly a thorough wash. From then on Polly was most happy when she was near Cindy and would even curl up between her paws to sleep.

image kitten and dog sleeping
Polly felt safest with her new best friend Cindy.

Jake was less impressed as I expected. His first sight of Polly was when he came into the living room and saw her asleep on David’s lap. His expression said it all “What is that thing doing in MY SPOT?” He left the room and for some time would not enter the living room if Polly was there.

Polly had runny eyes and kept sneezing so after a couple of days we decided that rather than wait for someone to adopt her we should take her to the vet. The vet asked us what her name was. We hadn’t given her one as she was meant to be a temporary visitor but they needed a name so David said Polly. We had joked that she ought to be called Polly because at that stage she was always trying to sit on our shoulders like a parrot. Of course once she had a name, and we had a hundred dollar vet bill, we had to keep her.

image kitten 10 weeks
Two weeks later Polly looked better after a visit to the vet.

Over the next few weeks Polly recovered from her cold and put on weight. Putting her eye cream on became more of a battle but  she started to look better. I borrowed a cat playpen to keep her in at night and when we were out. Cindy became her best friend and if Polly was in the playpen she would lie down beside it. Jake became more used to Polly and reclaimed his right to sleep in the living room. He went from running away from Polly to ignoring her and occasionally hissing at her. Polly, on the other hand fell in love with Jake from the moment she saw him. She kept trying to make friends with him but he wouldn’t have it.

image cat and kitten on couch
Someone is watching me!

I decided that Polly was to be an inside cat. I’d tried it with Jake and Josey our previous cat but they always managed to get out when we opened the back door and in the end we gave up and let them out during the day and tried to keep them in at night. I don’t like cats hunting though and I am sure that one day in the not too distant future there will be laws passed in our area making it illegal for owners to let their cats roam. I thought it would be better if Polly didn’t get used to the idea of wandering. As she wouldn’t be going out to hunt we got her toys to play with. A five dollar toy with a jingling ball inside a wheel kept her happy for hours as she tried to work out how to catch it. When Polly was four or five months old we lost Jake. I guess we were meant to have Polly so we would not be without a cat.

image kittenplaying with toy
Polly had endless hours of fun trying to catch the ball inside. Eventually she “killed” it and Ihad to get her another one.

Polly is not a cat that wants to be cuddled all the time, she’s affectionate but independent. She likes to have her tummy rubbed and will sit beside us on the couch but not on our laps very often.  Loud noises and strangers frighten her. She hated the vacuum cleaner as a kitten and would run for cover every time I turned it on. She’s more accepting of it now but still doesn’t like it. If she hears strange voices she runs to hide behind a cabinet in the living room where she thinks nobody will find her. She has other hidey holes, the favourite one being our linen cupboard which she spends so much time in that David calls it “Polly’s Apartment”. She is still great friends with Cindy although she has learned that Cindy will not tolerate her going near her food bowl. They play a game with each other sometimes which involves Polly trying to bite Cindy on the leg while Cindy tries to nudge her away. Sometimes they wash each other which and that is nice to see. She is still very fond of toys. She doesn’t play with her wheel toy quite as often now but occasionally she will go and give it a few pokes. She prefers knocking over the waste paper basket and wrestling with Cindy’s broken tennis balls. I bought her catnip but like all of our previous cats she doesn’t seem that interested in it. Polly is still very curious too and likes to prowl around the house. When we moved into our spare bedroom for a few weeks while we redecorated she became quite fascinated with that room. Unlike our previous cats she doesn’t sleep on our bed although David, who goes to bed early, says she sometimes comes and stays with him for a while. She does like playing on the bed though, especially when I am trying to make it!

image kitten 8 months
Polly at 8 months
image cat in cupboard
Polly spends hours sleeping in the linen cupboard.

Polly is still an inside cat. I do let her out occasionally if one of us is outside and she potters around near the back door but if anything happens to scare her like a flock of noisy birds flying over or someone banging on the wheelie bin she scuttles back inside as fast as she can.  One day I would like to have an enclosure in the back garden so that Polly or any future cats can enjoy some outside time in safety. However in the meantime my cowardly cat seems quite happy in the house and that is fine with me.

image cat sitting
All grown up now but she still thinks she can roost on the back of a chair like she did when she was tiny.

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