Taking Care of Your People

Spot probably had the strangest humans in the whole world. To begin with, they named him Spot. It was such a weird name. It would perhaps make sense if he had spots anywhere, though even then it wasn’t very imaginative. However, Spot was all black, from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. His silly humans just weren’t good at naming things.

They also had a hard time remembering what they named him. “Polka dot,” Stick Thrower said one day. “No, that’s not right. Your name is Stripes, right Tiger?”

“Don’t be silly,” Food Pourer said. “It’s Chevron. Or Zigzag.   One of the two.”

And then they laughed and laughed, as though memory problems were humorous.   Perhaps if they gave names that meant something, like dogs do, they’d find the names easier to remember.

The problems with his name aside, his humans were silly in many other ways.   When it was late at night, they would sit and stare at the flickering lights in the box. Spot understood the appeal of flickering lights. Watching and tracking movement was an excellent way to develop your skills.

These were the type of skills that would make it possible to protect against ambush and hunt for the next meal. But, his humans tended to over train their tracking skills to the point that they never worked on other essential abilities.

They liked to walk, but didn’t want to run or chase interesting smells. Sometimes when he led them outside on the leash, he could get them to jog, just to burn off some of the energy they were saving up.   But then they’d pull him back. “Walk now,” Food Pourer said yesterday, and refused to run another step.

Or they’d release the leash so that they could walk even slower. “Go run,” Stick Thrower said last week. And then he stood there and watched Spot train. He didn’t even walk around in circles. Spot barked and ran up a few times to try to start a game of chase.   Dogs know how to make exercise fun.   Stick Thrower laughed and waved him off. “Go on,” he said.

His humans liked to help him practice pouncing. They’d stand and throw a stick or a ball or a disc. This was Stick Thrower’s favorite thing to do.   Spot would pounce and then fetch the item and wait for Stick Thrower to take a turn pouncing on him. Instead, he’d demand the item and throw it again. He didn’t want to pounce or wrestle or growl.   Just stand and throw, stand and throw.

Despite her lack of training, Food Pourer was always able to bring home food buried in bags or tin cans. Spot was never invited on her hunting trips, so he wasn’t sure where she was hunting. Did she use her tracking skills to follow other hunters and then take their hidden prizes once they’d left?

Perhaps she was embarrassed by this hunting tactic and didn’t want Spot to see. She always shared the food she brought home. Spot tried to share back. He dropped all his finds at the back door.

Some of the gifts he left were taken away by his humans and left in the big plastic can by the side of the house. Spot wasn’t sure why they saved things in there. His theory was that they liked to eat them in secret, after the scent grew a bit stronger.   The big plastic can always smelled so good. He wasn’t ever allowed to look inside.

All good hunters need their sleep, and his silly humans would forget that constantly. When he tried to nudge them gently, they would pat his head or find his chewing stick or fill his water bowl or open the door and send him out. Then they would sit in front of the box again and yawn and rub their eyes.

When they finally went to sleep, they always forgot to choose someone to guard against attack. Spot was sensible enough to volunteer. He could nap during the day. His humans didn’t understand the value of naps. Silly humans.

Sometimes, Spot wondered how his humans managed to live as long as they did.   They were lucky to have someone sensible watching out for them. Silly or not, they were his humans and Spot was very fond of them. Even if they sometimes forgot his name.