Thursday, March 3, 2011

Problem still unsolved

At the end of my recent article entitled Hose running [display], I said that Fitzroy had been trying to figure out how to run around on the lawn with one end of a long hose in his mouth. Here's a photo I took early this morning.

Clearly, the problem hasn't been solved yet. I try in vain to imagine the turmoil in Fitzroy's brain when he discovers that, the more he runs rapidly around the young tree, the more the situation worsens. At no moment throughout the day has he decided to try to untangle the hose. Maybe my dear dog, realizing that the challenge is more arduous than what he had expected, has drifted into a state of frustration and discouragement. I don't think so. I certainly haven't noticed him acting like a despondent dog. But would he be hiding his despair in the depths of his soul? I hope I don't have to find him a psychoanalyst… unless, of course, I were to read up on this subject with the help of Wikipedia, and do the job myself. The problem, then, would be to get Fitzroy to lie down calmly on a couch while I analyze him. I could always put him on my knees, but he would fall asleep instantly, as he always does, which would prevent him from hearing my words of Freudian wisdom. So, we still have problems.


  1. What a delightful problem to have! Your tolerance of Fitzroy's destruction of your garden hose is making me smile.

  2. That piece of blue hose was discarded many years ago, probably because it's the obsolete thin-walled plastic that tends to bend into angles that block the water flow. The inexpensive hoses sold in big stores develop holes and cracks for all kinds of reasons… even without the help of Fitzroy. So, my dog's current toy is not exactly something I value. Like many rural residents, I tend to hang on to such old junk because "it can always come in handy" (for siphoning dirty water from a donkey trough, for example).

    It's a fact that, in the early hours of the morning, Fitzroy tends to move into what military people might call find and destroy mode. Training him not to perform certain destructive operations would necessitate my being able to catch him red-handed, and this is rarely the case. It's like the question of where he should and should not drop his turds (necessarily voluminous because Fitzroy is still in the growth phase where he's allowed to eat as much as he likes). In the case of Sophia, who has always slept inside the kitchen, this problem never existed, because I would take her outside the house of a morning and discourage her sharply if ever she started to defecate in an inappropriate spot. Consequently, for years now, Sophia has established her favorite turd zones on various relatively inaccessible slopes (for humans, that is) at least a hundred meters from the house. For Fitzroy, the question of training in this domain is out of the question. Never once, since his arrival at Gamone, have I actually seen him in the act of defecating. I only find his turds later on in the day, and often in an unacceptable place, alongside the house. All I can do in such cases is to pick up the turds on a trowel and hurl them down the slopes, often after passing the trowel of shit under Fitzroy's disgusted nose and making various sounds intended to voice my disapproval. At such times, I'm not at all sure that Fitzroy gets the message. I often have the impression that he's saying to himself: "If the master shares my dislike for this nasty stuff that comes out of my rear end in the early hours of the morning, then why is he going around and picking it up, instead of simply steering away from it, as I do?" After all, that's pretty good dog logic. In reality, I accord the benefit of doubt to Fitzroy's genes. I see that this turd annoyance has diminished significantly, as if Fitzroy is discovering, all alone, that it's preferable to establish his turd territory at a certain distance from the areas where he eats, sleeps and plays. Would he maybe be learning how to deal with this question by his observations of Sophia, during our morning walks? I carry on congratulating Sophia verbally whenever she disappears momentarily for one of her rapid turd sessions, and I notice that, on such occasions, Fitzroy adopts his sheepdog "carpet" pose (flat on the ground), waiting at a distance until Sophia's defecation is completed.

  3. As a lazy master who does not go around with a bag of dogfood goodies, yelling out orders that my dogs are intended to learn (which would interrupt my own meditations), an awesome thought enters my mind constantly whenever I reflect upon this entire theme of canine education. While perfectly aware that I could indeed teach the animals various circus tricks, if we were intent upon it (which has never been the case with Sophia, where 99% of our deep relationship is founded upon the beautiful thing called Silence), I can't help considering that most of the training has already been done for me by countless millennia of evolution, not forgetting a certain number of recent centuries during which draconian education was meted out to the dogs by their human overseers. These days, if I don't have to worry about letting my tender fingers stray in the vicinity of Fitzroy's huge canine teeth and wet jaws, capable of cracking walnuts, it's because any of his remote ancestral relatives who happened to step outside the bounds of acceptable behavior were soon put out of circulation (chased away, or killed) without having a chance to bear progeny. Today, we human dog-owners can bask in the calm luxury of admiring the outcome of all these selection processes, and marvel at the way in which Sophia and Fitzroy can engage in pitched battles, for example, with much growling and flashing of teeth but never a drop of blood nor the least demonstration of real anger. We are all happy witnesses of the outcome of this fabulous "descent" called evolution. Lucky survivors. And my splendid luck, here at Gamone, happens to be named Sophia and Fitzroy. Would they, in turn, suspect that they've encountered an extraordinary survivor of Darwinian processes (aided by education and experience, of course) named William? Of course they do… for they provide daily demonstrations of the fact that they consider me to be the most important creature in the universe.