I usually try to hold off feeding Bubba until 6:30 in the morning. I feel that is a reasonable hour for breakfast. When dawn comes early in the summer, he gets up with it and tries to rouse me to feed him. I don’t really want to get up that early. Usually there is some back and forth at that point. I tell him to go lie down, he grumbles/talks/barks/whines depending on his mood. I assume it’s some combination of “no, get up now, get up NOW”.
Our standoffs can go on for a while. Which one of us will give in first today? Because I’m the higher life form, theoretically, and I’ve studied animal behavior, I try to wait until he quits his hounding and lies down. Then I get up. That way I’m rewarding him for doing what I want, not for the whining. You would think that after 10+ years of living with me that he would learn this routine. But he subscribes to the Scarlet O’Hara philosophy; ‘Tomorrow is another day’, because this behavior occurs every morning.
Obviously he knows I won’t do anything bad to him for being pushy, or he wouldn’t do it. How does he know that? I think it’s a combination of dogs and cats being keen observers of humans, and also of expressing their innate nature or personality when they are in a secure environment.
When my parent’s dog Ginny gets into trouble, she squints her eyes and lifts the corners of her mouth in a smile. It’s like she’s saying ‘Oops, don’t be mad’. Of course she looks so darn cute when she does it you can’t scold her. She has figured out this give and take and uses it to her advantage. And that is truly fascinating to me. Think about the string of thoughts she puts together, and then displays a very specific behavior in an appropriate context.
Our clinic cat John-John is obsessed with ladies purses. We don’t know why. When someone is checking out at the counter he often leaves what he was doing (lazing around mostly) and jumps up to greet them. He very specifically nuzzles their hand or face in an affectionate manner. After he’s received a petting he sticks his head and/or paw in the purse. He displays an affiliative behavior to elicit a response from a human, then he does what he wants. He knows that a nuzzle works better than a nip. He’s a genius!
John-John was a feral cat. Dr. Schellenberger trapped him on his land and brought him to the clinic with idea that we would neuter him and adopt him. He was so wild at first we could hardly cage him, he would try to climb the walls and doors. Now he acts like a Russian mogul, expecting us to fulfill his every command. I don’t think he would be able to hunt if we turned him loose. He’s lost some survival skills but gained a funny persona. He’s been able to develop to the fullest.
When we have healthy pet/human relationships they are so touching. We get to love them and they get to be who they were meant to be.