Whenever possible, I'll try to communicate with animals in their own "language" (usually by using body language, but sometimes sounds).
So, for instance, I read somewhere that a mother cat will give her kittens a little shake by the scruff of the neck when they're being bad; I do the same to Birch.* I figure it's the fastest and easiest way to let him know I'm angry. Telling him he's a bad kitty would require him to translate my words before he could understand my point...if he ever did understand it. It's like the difference between some guy yelling at you angrily in German (assuming German is not your first language) vs. giving you the finger: you might be able to piece together the rapid-fire guttural ranting and figure out what's wrong, but the obscene gesture gets the point across immediately.
This reminds me of an anecdote from a bunch of years ago. It's a dog story, but I'm posting it here anyway because a) there's no canine equivalent to Caturday.** and b) it's a pet story, so close enough.
Okay, so anyway, when I was married my husband and I got a puppy together. We named him Merle.
So, long story short, I grabbed Merle and punished him for his insolence in a way he'd understand. Just maybe three hip thrusts - BAM BAM BAM - to show him who's boss. But while I was doing this...my husband walked in.
Let's take a moment to picture what this tableau must have looked like to an outside observer, shall we? Imagine innocently puttering around the house, going about your day, when suddenly you enter a room and are confronted with this:
In case you were wondering, the divorce happened many years later and had nothing to do with my pelvic-slamming the family dog. My ex listened to my embarrassed explanation of The Humping, rolled his eyes at my overly literal approach to interspecies communication, and pretty much forgot the whole thing (or...blocked it out. Whatever.). I'm just telling you this story because I think it's funny.
Merle went to live with my ex after the divorce, but we still hang out sometimes. Here's a pic my ex took of us in High Park circa 2007:
|OH GOD I just realized this picture looks vaguely humpy, too. But there's nothing untoward going on. Merle just happens to be sitting between my legs and I'm holding him still for the photograph, that's all. Shut up.|
*I don't lift him right up in the air or anything; the weight of his fat ass would just stretch his neck flab like a bungee cord until he was sitting on the floor again. But I lift him enough that his front toes are in air.
**But there should be. Mutt-day? Curs-day? I don't know.