October 18, 2012

A night somewhat off



I NEED A NIGHT OFF.  Sorry.  I’m still cross-eyed from yesterday, or rather while I would have said I did have enough sleep last night the body, or at least the brain, is saying, no, no, no, nothing like, lock the frelling puppy in the crate and let’s go lie on the sofa some more.  Think how much the poor puppy-oppressed hellhounds would enjoy this.  Be generous.  Be altruistic.

Hellhounds had a LOOONG sofa this evening while I read old gardening mags* and maybe dozed and I am now puppified** and having difficulty not doing more dozing which is dangerous in a straight chair and if I fell off it might discourage/alarm puppy.  Puppy is already taking responsibilities seriously:  I may have to change Pooka’s ringtone because Pavlova barks back.  She also barks peremptorily in response to knocks on the door—and this afternoon, at thunder.  She didn’t appear disturbed, merely suggesting that whoever it was was not necessarily welcome on her patch, and if it would reveal itself she would judge if it was to be allowed to remain.  All this at less than ten furry little pounds.***

And if I don’t stop talking I will have to revert to textspeak.  Especially since my choice is having only one available hand . . . or having gently snoring puppy head on keyboard.  I need a puppy pillow.

So.  Have a few links.  This is from Sunday.


Love the body language.  If Pavlova’s tail were going any harder in that first shot it would come off.  And Chaos, who is still puppy at heart, is willing to give benefit of the doubt to potential (if presently diminutive) playmate but Darkness thinks they both need protecting from the DANGEROUS INVADER.


Gryphyn from the forum found this one.  (Thank you Gryphyn).  And I think it’s adorable.  But in my evil spoilsport headmistress aspect I also want to know that that road they’re walking on is entirely car free and those car-like objects apparently parked at the kerb of a street in active moving-vehicle use are an illusion.  Lego or papier mache or intense yarn bombing or something.  Granted that my view is skewed by the fact that pound for pound whippets are the fastest thing on the planet†, as a rule of thumb all dogs are faster than all humans and no dog never breaks training.  I hate seeing off lead dogs by the sides of roads.

And now two total irrelevancies.  A friend sent me this one and it makes me want to go to seminary and become a vicar in Essex.  But by then the post would probably have been filled.  I probably wouldn’t be able to cope with the village characters anyway.


I don’t think this last one needs any comment.  Ahem.


Thank you Katy Ryn Roberts.  I needed to know about this.

* * *

* mainly this one:  http://www.rhs.org.uk/Plants/RHS-Publications/Journals/The-Garden  Of course I belong.  If you live in England and either have a patio big enough for a flowerpot or just want to have lunch at a nice café with roses round the door^ it’s totally worth it.

^ http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardens

** Upside down her ears are up.

*** If she were going to stay little, I’d probably think more about how to carry her.  She’s actually very good about dangling serenely as I tuck her under my arm, but I do want to hold her there snugly just in case of sudden surges which means I can’t brace her against my hip or side.  Dunno.  But it’s not going to be relevant very much longer.

† Fastest dog anyway.  Cheetahs are faster but they also weigh a lot more and I can’t do those complicated maths.


Hellhounds meet hellterror




And for anyone interested in dog behaviour* and dog training styles** this is a fascinating article:  http://www.examiner.com/article/dog-whispering-the-21st-century ***

* * *

* Thank you Southdowner

** with or without new puppy in lap & typing 1-fingered

*** Note mention of Patricia McConnell in notes, who some1 on forum mentioned a day or 2 ago.  Have bookmarked her blog:  http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/theotherendoftheleash/

Una Voce Poco Squeak


I was just listening to Beverly Sills sing Una Voce Poco Fa* as I cut up chicken for hellhound dinner** and thinking, actually, that’s not possible.  A Little Learning Is A Dangerous Thing, or, professionals get paid to do stuff for a reason.  I feel that even with my obsessive attitude I will be able to live comfortably without ever learning to sing a trill, but I would like to be able to sing turns and grace notes and accidentals and things.  Not this year however.*** 

Catlady:  I also used to sing baritone for a barbershop quartet. We won both competitions we were in, and after, the judges would come up and give us pointers (they were very invested in Cultivating A Love Of Barbershop in the Next Generation, so the pointers were all kind, encouraging ones) and I was told that I was good at what I did because they couldn’t pick out my voice at all. Which was good, I suppose, as far as it went… 

Wait, wait, when I think of barbershop quartets I think in multiples of four.  You mean you were the only baritone and they said they couldn’t pick you out?  Um.  No.  I don’t think that’s very encouraging.  But if you won both your competitions, why did you stop?

            The thing I’ve been thinking about, since there clearly are a lot of genuinely low-voiced women out there, is, why isn’t there a complementary groundswell of bass and baritone women to balance the huge burst of enthusiasm for countertenors and male sopranos?  Anyone else want to sing the Conte di Luna? 

Glanalaw:  You used to have FOUR octaves? You are a freak! But the kind I wish I was. On a good day I have three whole octaves (sometimes a tiny bit more) – F below middle C up to the “Queen of the Night F” above the staff. Usually a little bit less. And I’m a trained (partially) singer, and that’s considered to be impressive in the circles in which I run. 

I keep telling you:  they were not four octaves anyone would want to listen to.  If you’ve got three-plus octaves that people do want to listen to, than I am passionately jealous. 

            I could get down to the second A below middle C and up to the Queen of the Night F—so not quite four octaves.  On a very very very good day I think I had the bottom F too, but it wasn’t usable because I couldn’t rely on it.  Both ends were audible and on pitch . . . but that’s all you could say for them.  Or any of the notes in the middle, for that matter.  With Nadia nagging me about leaving space and relaxing and dropping and breathing and supporting and so on I’m hoping to become a member of the back row of a good choir, but that’s still the acme of my practical yearning:  I am just not solo material. 

As far as the breaks – I got out my vocal pedagogy book, which actually uses the analogy of shifting gears to describe changing registers! It also suggests that “normal” breaks happen more or less where you’re describing yours. I am probably also supposed to be able to inform people of these facts without looking them up first. 

Piffle.  If God had meant us to remember all this stuff, he wouldn’t have invented Wiki.† 

 (I just took my music history placement examination for the master of music degree and it left me feeling rather inadequate – I can’t wait until the theory one next week. *sarcasm*) 

WELL I AM VERY IMPRESSED.  You’ve aced your theory by now, right?  What does a master of music do with her degree? 

harpergray:  . . . part of the diva-ness is that sopranos’ voices are so much more exposed, which . . . means that soprano confidence problems are going to be more exposed too, I guess.

. . . I was coming at it from the alto side, where we just sort of watch it happen. 

Ah yes, the floor show.  No group of humans is complete without the floor show aspect of their particular brand of togetherness.  So far the Muddlehampton sopranos are rather well-mannered although there are potential gleeps elsewhere.  And unfortunately discretion will prevent me from telling you about any really good ones.  Feel free to dispense with discretion, since you’re anonymous. 

That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen among us as well, but if you have confidence problems as an alto it doesn’t stand out nearly as much. 

Yes.  The sheer physics of sound are just there.  They don’t care if you like them or not.

. . . if I’m singing alto principal I’m old, ugly, pathetic, and the butt of bad jokes. I love G&S but I don’t love Gilbert for his broad-mindedness.

True. In some cases, though, the alto principal is actually one of the most interesting characters in the piece. Iolanthe, for an obvious one, but if she’s played well then I’ve found Katisha to be a really excellent character. Old and the butt of jokes, yes, but she leaves quite a bit of room for creating the depth that many of his characters often lack. . . . I may have given this more thought than is particularly necessary…   

No, but I agree.  I loved G&S because they told stories and I used to listen . . . more raptly than is particularly necessary.  And I would rather play any of the ugly old altos—Buttercup, Ruth:  I really fancied Ruth:  I never believed for a minute that she wanted to marry Frederic, she so clearly had her own agenda—than any of those twittish soprano heroines.  With possible reference to the next comment. 

Judith:  Boring?!?! Oh, I beg to differ. I wouldn’t sing soprano, and therefore in almost all cases melody, for the world. 

I was being provocative again, you realise.  I write this frelling blog pretty well every frelling night:  I have to get some fun out of it somehow.  

Occasionally the sopranos get something interesting, like a descant, but it’s very rare. In mixed sex choirs the altos get to blend in the middle with fantastic harmonies that challenge you musically, and in single-sex choirs — oh, then the second altos get to shine, holding up the bottom and still weaving in and out of an intricate harmonic line with the totality being a purity of sound unknown in a mixed sex group. 

Well, I just don’t agree with you here;  whatever floats your boat, however, and I suppose it’s also how you define ‘pure’.  Part of the reason I’m clinging to soprano with both hands at the moment is because the tune is easier to learn, and holding my own line while everyone around me may or may not be holding theirs is still pretty exciting, like going over Niagara in a barrel is exciting.  When I can do this choir thing a little better and when Nadia gets me sorted out a little more—I really don’t know what I’ll end up singing.  I might, if enough of my range comes back usably, revert to what I did when I was a teenager, and get plugged in where they need the numbers.  That was fun.  But I have not performed a lot of music in my life thus far because aside from my freak range I didn’t feel I had anything to offer—and an awful lot of the standard church choir music that I did sing alto to was incredibly boring.  And I wasn’t clever enough, or educated enough, or motivated enough to fool around with the harmony myself.  Aside from the fact that the choir director would probably have stomped me flat if I had.

When I’m in groups of people who are just singing for fun I find myself automatically finding a harmonic line and singing it instead of the melody because it’s just so much more interesting. 

I do know what you’re talking about here.  I will start feeling my way into the harmony of a song I know well—for fun, as you say.  But you and I are clearly talking across a gigantic chasm of knowledge, skill and experience.  I’m happy singing soprano at the moment.  Or I would be happy if I could hit the dranglefabbing notes a little more roundly. 

I will admit that true sopranos have a lovely, pure quality to their tone, but then so do true altos. A choir of sopranos singing their line alone is a beautiful thing to hear for its light, clear sound. A choir of altos singing their line alone is a beautiful thing to hear for its richness and depth. One is what one is and one is stuck with it. 

One is who one is and is stuck with it as soon as one finds out what that is.  Meanwhile, I think you’re selling sopranos short:  not every soprano is light.  And for that matter not every alto is rich and deep.  At which point I will pause to animadvert in the general direction of Fach again . . .  

* * * 

* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmEFfeYRWeI  Although of course I’m listening to the entire Barber.  This one:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rossini-Barber-Seville-Beverly-Sills/dp/B000UYWG8U which is apparently, amazingly, still in print.  It was out of print for a very long time over the period when (a) I moved to England and had to buy all my electronic kit all over again^ and (b) it was almost impossible to buy a turntable for your decrepit LPs if you were the type of saddo who had resisted throwing them all out and embracing the new CD technology with the whole-hearted vision of the future it deserved.

            I’ve probably told you this before but Beverly Sills almost single-handedly turned me into an opera junkie.  It’s not quite that simple—the first opera I bought for myself was the Franco Corelli Il Trovatore:  hey, the Sills La Traviata wasn’t out yet;  nor was her Barber—but it was Sills where it became immanent and imperative.  She’s also one of the reasons I’ve never got along with the Fach system of classifying singers:  I love her Rosina, for example, which is a mezzo part and Sills is a coloratura soprano—a coloratura soprano with kick:  ‘small voice’ my tin teapot—the usual smug put-down of someone who can sing F above high C—she could make your ears ring in the back row, as I know, because in those days I could never afford anything better than the back row.  Fach.  Feh.  Mind you, I’m aware that Sills is not universally adored and admired, but she’s on my LOTR list:  I feel sorry for people who don’t love her, like I feel sorry for people who can’t read LOTR.  She was also a revelation:  she was one of the singers who made the idea popular that opera did not have to be ‘stand on x, wave your arms and sing’.  She could act, and did.  You still get the I-am-a-Coke-machine approach to characterisation in opera, but you get it a whole lot less than you did forty years ago, and some of that is down to Beverly Sills. 

            Blah blah blah blah http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beverly_Sills blah blah blah blah.

            Anyway.  When they finally reissued Sills’ Barber on CD—La Trav had been out for years for some reason—I did die and go to heaven, they just sent me back.  But I got to keep the CDs. 

^ Granted this did not include anything resembling a computer, but you just flick a switch on modern computers and they run off what’s available:  wimpy American electricity, homicidal British electricity, marsh gas, voles.  And I wasn’t too broken up about leaving my iron behind.+  But parting from my stereo system hurt.  Peter, bless his pointed little heart, had figured out by then++ that music is my methadone, and if I am deprived of it for any length of time I start biting people and drinking their blood.  So for my first birthday in England, barely a fortnight after I got here, Peter gave me a new stereo and tickets to The Huguenots+++ at the Royal Opera House. 

+ t shirts rule 

++ He came over and lived with me in Maine for most of the stretch between the end of July when Everything Happened and the end of October when I emigrated.  I had to finish DEERSKIN before I started packing.  

+++ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Huguenots  Personally I think that even as grand opera goes, this one is silly.  But there is some very nice music, and it doesn’t get staged very often so I was totally psyched to see it.  I think it was probably a little hard on my future husband, and may indeed be the secret canker that over the twenty years since ruined him for opera.  

** Yes.  They ate.  But we are in fact not out of the dark scary woods where the menacing roast chicken and the hellhound-noshing kibble lurk, and I’m feeling more than a little crazy on the subject, not to mention short of sleep. 

*** This year we’re concentrating on a non-bat-like high A for Bruckner.  I now have my hopes pinned on what must be the fact that they won’t want all of us for this frelling wedding.  They’ll only want their best—which should let me off, thank you.    

† Which is of course desperately unreliable.  God’s little joke then.



So I’m having a stupid day.*   The brain is not working, the limbs are made of old rubber bands that have lost their stretch, and the attitude is rat hair and warts.  And the expression on the face is suitable for scaring small children into becoming model citizens.**   It’s probably a good thing that Oisin was trying to get ready to go away for the weekend and was therefore willing to let me slouch at the kitchen counter, drinking tea and grumbling, and that I didn’t get to ring anything I wanted to ring at practise tonight.***

            And then I came home and found this in my Twitter feed:

@writingjules Some 10th gr. students made an adaptation of Outlaws of Sherwood. They’re thrilled that you might watch. http://bit.ly/hiW0dS

It’s fabulous.  Watch it.  Go on, press that button.  And make sure you watch both parts.  Including the outtakes in which there is a discussion about whether or not the author is Robert McKinley.  Warning:  there is a pretty dramatic spoiler, if you haven’t read the book, but in fact you may not recognise that it’s a spoiler since there’s a fair amount of recasting to get it all in in about sixteen minutes.†  Love love love love.  I love Friar Tuck’s dog.  There’s so much about it that is delightful—I love the choreography of the fight scenes and the helpful soundtrack.  (Also love the music.)  I love the creative intelligence behind it—sure it’s both obvious, practical and in the fine old Robin Hood tradition to retell it in a way relevant to the teller—but there are so many clever touches.  Love Tweetie-bird.  Love the hat.   Love—er—King Richard.

            Look, just watch it, okay?††  It’ll cheer your day up too.

* * *

* No.  I have no idea why.  The ME was bored, I suppose.  All its favourite TV programmes have been cancelled or something.

** I have two subdued six-year-olds polishing the silver right now.

*** Niall asked me to call a touch of plain bob doubles for one of our beginners.  Fortunately several people went disastrously adrift at about the point when I was going to have to say ‘that’s all’.  I can usually call the beggar, it’s registering when to stop it that I get wrong every time.   So I could just shout ROUNDS and escape responsibility.

† And just by the way, it’s a damn good thing that spoiler is there.  The film was made by a boy and his mates, and girls are very thin on the ground.  I appreciate that this was the situation and I’m okay with that:  it’s a work of art and I’m so flattered I can hardly stand it.  But I don’t want anyone getting the idea that the original Greentree was short of women.   

†† Here come the boring, tedious legal caveats.  Which are that I basically don’t have a clue but I’m sure there’s a can of worms here that could be opened, and I hope nobody has a tin-opener handy.  I’m not granting any rights, and if someone makes a DVD off the YouTube film and starts selling copies I will be Very Displeased.^  I’m not suggesting that every other tenth grader or teacher of tenth graders should be let loose with copies of my books and video cameras, and I’m still dead against fanfic and fanart based on my work.^^  But every now and then I think it’s good for you to compromise your principles and have the sticky toffee pudding with ice cream, or to sit back and enjoy something marvellous even if it may be leaving a few muddy footprints on your copyright.

^ Not my problem, but I also wonder what the rules are about using music clips.

^^ No.  It isn’t.  It’s retelling my version of the story in another medium.  We don’t follow them to Iraq or find out what Robin and Marian’s kids grow up to be.+

+ A composer, a bricklayer and a high school English teacher.  The bricklayer went to Oxford and got her post-doc from Harvard.  The English teacher raises wolfhounds.  And the composer is mad.  Nice mad. 

            Next question.

The three-four to bob major


I rang the 3-4 to bob major!  YESSSSSSSSSSS.  It was not, I admit, a thing of absolute beauty and grace, and we broke down more than once and had to start over . . . but we did it.  And we did it more than once!   So it’s real.  So I can say . . . I almost ring 3-4 to bob major on handbells.  Sometimes I ring the 3-4 to bob major.  I can probably ring the bob major 3-4 if everyone else is in the right place.*

         I was sure, when I started letting people in tonight,** that it was all going to go Terribly Wrong.  I haven’t had nearly enough time*** to practise the last couple of days, and Tuesday night was not encouraging.  And Colin, who is usually on the 3-4, did not immediately take to the trebles†, which meant that the treble itself was not always flawlessly in the right place.††

         But we did it!  We did it!  I did it!  Long live Pooka!  This is really all about my iPhone!†††

         We had an unusually long and chatty tea break however because my brains were melting.‡  And somehow the conversation turned to cats.  One of Niall’s few shortcomings is that he is Not An Animal Person, but both Colin and Fernanda are card-carrying‡‡ cat people.‡‡‡  And so, for anyone else whose education has been sadly lacking, here is what I think is the original video of the gremlin who did terrible things to the homeowner’s water bill . . . . http://www.google.co.uk/#hl=en&sugexp=evnsp&xhr=t&q=cat+flushing+toilet&cp=8&pf=p&sclient=psy&aq=0&aqi=&aql=t&oq=cat+flush&pbx=1&fp=975ed894378411e6

 * * *

* This is one of my rants.  My two pet peeves:  really good ringers who can’t be bothered putting in time teaching beginners.  And so-frelling-called advanced ringers who are only as good as the ringers around them can frelling carry them.  This is a lot of where my small but fervent obsession about becoming both kinds of ringer, tower and hand, solid enough for other people to bounce off of, arises from.  I’d rather be good at Grandsire doubles than carried through Bristol Royal.^  In the first place I remember—painfully—the MONTHS Niall and Esme put into teaching me bob minor on handbells—I was sure I’d never crack it—I’m not at all sure why the frell I stuck with it, I was so clearly hopeless—probably chiefly because the other two just assumed  that I was keeping on.  At the end of every meeting we got out our diaries and made a date for our next.  I Was Helpless in Their Toils.  And toil it certainly was.  Gah.  But . . . I’ve told you this before . . . you remember this kind of thing.  You remember how much work it is.  It makes you rather frantically (a) willing to put up with grinding it into someone else and (b) anxious to give some of it back.  I like being the wheel horse.^^

^ Like I could even be carried through Bristol Royal.  This would be like someone who can just about get the saddle on the right way around going for a gallop round in the Grand National.

^^ GAAAAH.  I was trying to find a link for wheel horse.  And they’re all about tractors.  I even dared Google’s ‘advanced search’ and forbade pages containing ‘tractors’ . . . AND NOTHING CHANGED.  THEY WERE STILL ALL ABOUT TRACTORS.  There’s one feeble little dictionary definition, about a person who’s a hard worker.  Feh.  Research on the net is unbelievably hit or miss.  This is why we have LIBRARIES.+

         Long before the internet, and long before tractors, the wheel horse or horses were the ones harnessed to the thing to be pulled—the carriage or the plough or whatever.  The rest of the team were harnessed, serially, to the wheel horses.  A good wheel horse was essential.  You could get away with a little nonsense from the rest of the team.  But what you do went or fell over, depending on your wheel horse.  A good wheel horse is the ultimate in steady, patient grind.  A good wheel horse is gold

+ I don’t know if anyone outside the UK is aware that the old rope ends and washing machine lint we presently call a government are trying to close nearly 400 libraries in this ex-great country?  Dear gods.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jan/13/library-campaigners-demand-public-inquiry-closures  



As far as I’m concerned, libraries are a basic necessity.  Food, shelter, clothing and libraries.  So much for Ugly Nick Frelling Clegg, so-called leader of the so-called Lib Dems.  That the Tories are humourless ratbags with computer chips, and balance sheets weighted for management, where most people have hearts, is no surprise.

         I’m not political.  I’m just enraged.

** No, no!  Go away!  I’m not here!  Barking?  What barking?  I don’t hear any barking. . . . [Darkness!  Sssssh!  Chaos!  Stop leaping over the gate!  There’s no one there!  I mean, we’re not here!] 

*** Time?  TIME??? 

† Although bless his bifurcated little ringer’s brain, he’ll give anything a good shot 

†† Okay, here’s the bit that only crazies who find other people’s obsessions interesting will want to read.  The thing about the treble in most basic methods is that when it leads—when it’s the first in your row of, in this case, eight, bells, all going bing—is when things happen.   You can just trundle on doing what you’re doing—and what you’re doing can vary extremely depending on what pair you’re on^—until the treble leads.  Which is your cue to Do Something Else.  A lot of us need that cue.  So if the treble isn’t in the right place. . . . 

^ Which is why handbells are so appalling.  In the tower, all the ‘inside’ bells do the same thing.  They just start at different places in the pattern.  In handbells, since you’re ringing two bells, the shape of what your two bells is doing is different from any other pair—because each of your two bells is starting at a different place in the pattern.  You get that, right?

‡ And, when I can’t sleep, I put my hand out and fumble around on the shelf next to my bed^, pick up Pooka and ring some handbells.  I am a sick, sick, sick puppy. 

^ Which is mostly full of books.  Now including a few on digital photography.  Ahem. 

 ‡‡ Geeky obsessive bit, Part Two.  The actual pattern that the trebles ring—which is to say the treble and the two, and the two is an inside bell (see above)—is nasty.  It’s every bit as nasty as either of the middle pairs^.  But you have a unique, crucial advantage if you’re ringing the treble:  that you have that crucial cue of the treble leading in your own hand.  It’s not one more thing you have to keep track of, which it is for the other bells.  It’s one more thing too frelling many, I can tell you, from the 3-4. 

         Ringing a new pair is always a trifle challenging.  But ringing your first inside pair to a major method . . . total brain melt.  Total. 

 ^ The 3-4 or the 5-6.  I don’t yet know if the tenors—which means the 7-8 for major, and the 5-6 for minor, which has only one inside pair—are always a bit easier.  The tenors for the plain bob methods are easier, which is all I know about.  So far.  Niall is already muttering about Kent and Cambridge.  Sob.  

‡‡ ‘I am the slave of [cat’s name here].  Please be nice to me.  [Cat] would miss me if I didn’t come home with tuna.’ 

‡‡‡  katinseattle wrote:

Quote:  When the groups shifted I said ‘I can’t move.  There’s a cat in my lap.’

Quote:  . . . not a cat person.

**falls down laughing**

Ha, ha, very funny, ha ha.  I’m not a cat person.  But I am an instant and total sucker for anything warm, furry and friendly—as previously demonstrated.  I fought frantically against the hellkitten, didn’t I?  I didn’t keep asking when Phineas was going away again?  I didn’t take any photos of kitten antics?  Noooooooooo.  I’ve lived with and been friends with cats, and if the ME were the really vicious kind that precluded hurtling, I’d probably have cats rather than dogs.  But . . . all things being equal, I’d rather have something that didn’t walk on my kitchen counters.

         I’m also a sucker for beauty.  And the Orientals tend to be eye candy, like most sighthounds.  Well, to my eye.

Diane in MN wrote:

Quote:  Aaron wrote:  ‘I have heard two explanations for this. [The way many domestic animals pursue the human that expresses no interest in them.] The first is that animals mark their territory and a person who is already marked by another animal is less attractive than a person who, being standoffish, has avoided being so marked. The second is that animals find many of the human “approach” mannerisms threatening and therefore prefer people that are not trying to approach them. I am moderately allergic to cats and I certainly have encountered my share of inexplicably affectionate cats but I don’t know that I find either explanation convincing.’

I don’t find them convincing, either. All the dogs I know are very enthusiastic about investigating someone whose clothes etc. smell like dogs–or any other interesting critter, for that matter. And confident and socialized dogs, in my experience, don’t feel threatened by the usual human attempts to engage their interest. These explanations sound like they come from from a behaviorist’s lab notes, not from someone that’s lived with animals. I think dogs do it because they like to tease, they like to play games, and they like to win: they can do all three by annoying and getting a reaction from someone that doesn’t want them around. I haven’t lived with kitties for decades so will not speculate about their motives, although I suspect that a cat-centered worldview has something to do with it.

I want to add a word for simple outgoingness—which Chaos in particular has in bucketloads—and curiosity.  Chaos certainly likes playing games, but he’s also just friendly.  Oooh!  Person!  Pet me!  I’m probably a bit simple-minded myself^ but I don’t see Chaos’ initial overtures as being anything but overtures.  Later on he’ll get around to games and hierarchies and what he can get away with, but that first impulse is just, ooooh!  New thing!  STIMULUS!

         And curiosity.  Hey, half the human stories out there are based on everyone else instantly being intensely curious about the stand-offish one.  If it’s a romance, everyone else instantly has the hots for the stand-offish one.  For a well-socialised domestic animal who of course has every right to believe it’s the centre of the universe, why wouldn’t it be curious about some mere human who isn’t falling into line? 

And yes, I’ve had Narknon and Fourpaws flourished at me before as demonstrations that I know one end of a cat from the other.  Sure.  As I say, I’ve lived with them.  Fourpaws was based on a specific cat belonging to a friend.  I like warm furry things.  I’m still a dog person.  But I wouldn’t throw a cat out of bed on a cold night.

 ^ I have the notoriously training-resistant sighthounds, don’t I?

Next Page »