Tag Archives: dogs

The art of fetching ball

Most dogs love to fetch balls. I have been thinking about this – I like it too, I like it a lot, but why? Sometimes I muse about things like this, when I am snoozing in my favorite chair.

When we dogs fetch balls, we experience a lot of different emotions and feelings. First there is anticipation. The human takes the ball into its hand and we focus on that: we see the ball, we know what is coming, we feel our muscles straining, ready for action. It is the sheer joy of knowing a human will throw a ball for us.

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Then the moment is there: the ball leaves the hand of the human and flies through the air. This is when we start running, but not at full speed immediately. At least, that is how I do it. I run and look at the ball at the same time. I make sure I follow the orbit of the ball, adjusting my speed to the speed of the ball. While running, I calculate where it will come down. I enjoy the wind on my coat and in my ears, I feel the ground under my feet, I spread my toes for optimal balance and power. I experience all these sensations at the same time, which makes it thrilling.

Throw ball

When I have figured out where the ball will land, I accelerate. I love to use all the strong muscles in my body. I race towards the spot where the ball comes down, because I want to catch it before it hits the ground. I am most peculiar about this: the best way to do ball-fetching is catching it in the air. I want to do the same with pigeons, but so far they are flying too high – pity.
I stretch my long legs and jump.

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Then, when I have catched the ball, another part of the play begins. My muscles relax a little, because full speed is not required anymore. I feel the gritty texture of the ball in my mouth – mostly we play this game on the beach, so there is always some sand involved. I turn around and face my human and I start running back to her, fast but not too fast. This is the moment when I enjoy the feeling of fulfillment: I have got the ball, I catched it flying, it is totally mine. Sometimes I savour this moment a bit longer, by digging a hole and burying the ball in it.

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Then I take it out and bring it back to my human. And we start all over again (that is why I bring it back)!
All this: the anticipation, the speed, the part where we need to calculate which way the ball is going, the joy of catching it… all this is why we love to fetch balls.

Raining cats and dogs

Humans tend to think too much. Because of this, they can’t see things as they really are and they create problems, problems that in reality do not exist (they only exist in the human mind). Take the weather. Yesterday it was pouring with rain. Humans do not like that, they complain about it and say grumpy things. I do not get it. Maybe when one human complains to another human that human will alter his behaviour, but with the weather this is not possible. It won’t change because humans complain about it. So why bother?

Besides, by thinking about the weather as a problem humans make it too hard for themselves. We have to go out anyway, you know. So stop wasting energy on complaining and just go out there and enjoy the moment. Because if you do, you will experience it is fun, no matter what the weather is like. Yes you will get wet, so what? That is not such a big deal, is it?

Kind of wet

Humans also have a lot of words to describe the weather. Most of them puzzle me. Like this one: ‘it is raining cats and dogs’. Well, I’ve never experienced that. It would be awesome, though, especially the part concerning the cats!

Not a morning dog

Most of the dogs in my neighborhood know this by now: I am not sociable in the morning. Humans say they are ‘not a morning person’ – I am not a morning dog. When I wake up, there is only one thing on my mind: I want to go to the toilet and that’s it.  After that I want food and then I go back to bed again.

So when we go out in the morning, usually I go out with P because M is not a morning person either, I do just that: look for some grass that is suitable to be my toilet. When I meet another dog who wants to sniff me or play with me, I growl. When the other dog persists (some can be such mutts) I snap.

When M gets out of bed, she needs coffee before one can speak to her. I think that would be good for me, too. I think I would be much more friendly if I could have a coffee too. Besides, I am from Greece. All Greeks drink a cup of dark and muddy coffee when they wake up. So why not me? It is not fair that M and P refuse to give me coffee, saying it is not healthy for dogs. Since they persist, they will have to cope with my morning moods. And so do all the dogs in my neighborhood.

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Dog talk

In my previous post I mentioned that I had a serious conversation with my friend, Jip. This is what it looked like:

Talking it through

Some of my friends who weren’t there when this happened ask me what this was all about. What were we saying? Well, it was something like this:

“You are a mean bitch!”
You are a mean bitch!”
“Yes I am!”
“Me too!”
“You are right, you are a mean bitch!”
“Ha! We both are mean bitches!”
“Hell yeah.”
“We are two mean bitches!”
“Yeah!”
“Okay. That’s settled, then.”
“Yes it is.”
“Now what?”
“Let’s have some fun!”

And that is what we had, with the rest of our pack:

Exploring

 

 

Losing my cool

I am a cool dog. Now that I am grown up I know what I like and which dogs & humans I want to be friends with. All else, things and dogs and humans, I ignore. So I can stay cool, all the time.

However there are some things that really annoy me. Like these:

1. Dogs that come creeping towards me, with their gaze focussed on me. When this happens, I snap. Humans don’t understand this, some of them even get angry. They say ‘but my dog just wants to play!’. Play, ha! This is not playing, this is what we do when we start the hunt. I do it when I see rabbits, cats and toy dogs. In which case, by the way, M loses her cool. But that is a different story.

2. Nervousness. When I was little I got nervous too whenever I encountered a nervous dog or human. Now I just get angry and I want to discipline that human or dog. It helps, you know, because then they go from nervous to scared or from nervous to angry. Both are much better emotions! These emotions lead to action, while nervousness paralyses. So it is a good thing that I lose my cool when I meet nervous humans or dogs.

3.  The neighbors’ dogs. They are way too often trespassing my territory, my street. How I would really really like to have a good fight with them! Not playing rough, but truly fighting. I don’t know why humans do not allow us to fight. A good fight solves so many things, grudges and other problems. We dogs should get the change to fight more often. It can be a big relief!

In a way, losing one’s cool isn’t too bad. It relieves, it helps others to take action and it gives good strong energy you can use for something you love. Like chasing a friend.

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Juicy sandwich

I can be a very polite dog. Very polite. Priorities, right? We dogs are good in immediately sorting out our priorities. I personally like to go on an Adventure, to go hiking for instance. That is a priority. Snoozing in the sun is another one. But my top priority is food.

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So when P is eating a juicy sandwich, I wait politely for him to share it with me. Of course, he always does. Who can resist my hungry look? No one can!

I think I would have been a very successful stray dog, if I had stayed in Athens. I would seduce all these tourists to share their food with me. I am glad I didn’t stay, though. I like it here. Besides, Dutch sandwiches are the best.

How to talk to dogs

Humans talk a lot. To each other and to us, dogs. But maybe you noticed that we dogs don’t talk to each other, at least not in the way humans do, with words and sentences. So the short version of the answer to the question ‘how to talk to dogs?’ is: you don’t.

We don’t actually mind when humans talk to us. We are polite enough to listen to all this blabla, no worries about that. M for instance talks a lot, to other humans and to me as well. I’m okay with that, it is the way she is and I respect that. But with humans and canines in general the trouble begins when humans seem to think that talking to us is the same thing as communicating with us. That is a big misunderstanding.

Let me give you an example. I was at the beach and a big labrador was happily rolling in a dead fish. His human did not like that and called him. When he finally came, she said to him (in a high pitched voice): “You naughty dog, I told you not to get yourself dirty. I thought we had agreed on that, don’t you remember?” I can tell you we all laughed very loud at this stupid human and the lab laughed with us. This human interacted with her dog as if it was a child and that is just not how it works. I don’t expect this works with human children either, but that’s another story.

Boss

Conclusion: talking to us is not the same as communicating with us. If you want to communicate with us, please take a look at how we dogs do it. We do not use words, we use energy. We pick up each others energy and know what the other needs. Like respect.

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Energy is our most important tool for communicating. Besides that we have all kind of subtle ways to tell each other what we want.

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And less subtle ways, too:

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But the most important tool is energy. Not only between dogs, but also in the human-canine interaction. We don’t need words, we feel what humans feel.  For instance: when a human is stressed, we sense it. Balanced dogs will try to calm this human, stressed dogs will get more stressed.

All this means two things concerning communication:

  1. You can’t fool us with words. We tune in into your energy, so we feel what you mean, despite the words you choose. You cannot lie to a dog.
  2. When you really want us to get your message, make sure your energy is in sync with what you tell us. When you tell us to be calm but you are stressed yourself, it won’t work.

So what about the lab who was rolling in the dead fish? Well, he and his human have an issue that is a bit bigger than just communicating in the right way, because the lab obviously has no respect for his human. I can’t blame him, I would feel the same towards a human who talks to me like I am a bad behaving child. There is something wrong in their relationship and they should work on that, by applying my magic formula of fun, companionship & love.

For the rest of the humans who do have a good relationship with their dog: if you want to communicate with us, be fair to your own feelings and energy and be fair to us. Be genuine, be balanced and only tell us to do things you find really important. Not out of some whim, because we will feel you are dishonest and we will not oblige. By the way: rolling in a dead fish is very high on our bucket list. So please do us a favor and let us enjoy that moment. You can always (oh I hate to say this) give us a bath afterwards.