Monday, September 7, 2009

Dog psych 101 - not that different from people!

The New York Times has reported that tennis players are a mite superstitious about the tennis balls they use and go through a ritual of choosing just the right ball (fluff matters) from several before serving. A friend asked whether Dover is as choosy as tennis players. Dover and his friends are indeed very devoted to tennis balls, but each has his or her own particular style in making these important decisions.

When Cisco (center, above) starts a game, she goes around the yard and sniffs each ball until she finds the one she likes. Then she uses only that ball for the duration - she won't accept or chase others. Dover considers it great sport to steal Cisco's ball - he will go out of his way to beat her to the fetch. Once in possession, he will parade and prance around the yard, taunting her, giving her meaningful looks, lying down with his chin on it or protectively placing it between his feet. Cisco fixes an unwavering stare on Dover, the ball, and Dover again, making very meaningful eye contact.

At some point, Dover will raise his head to take in the scenery, Cisco will move, whereupon Dover darts his head back over the ball. Eventually we can trick him and toss another ball, which he will chase happily, whereupon Cisco snatches her preferred ball - until the next time Dover beats her to it.

Dottie (above, right) will take any ball that comes her way; she hoards them - she is indiscriminent.

Dover is fickle. He will initially sniff balls out and chose one, but he easily falls to the allure of another.

He continues, however, to keep an eye out for Cisco's choice. Sometimes Cisco brushes her chosen ball by Dover's face as if to say: Hah Hah I have it and you don't. Dover, who is very fast, just lays low and waits his chance.

The two of them know exactly what they are doing.

Dover is temporarily on the disabled list, having had neck surgery to clean out a deep abscess of unknown origin. At first diagnosis the large lump was thought to be a possible lymphoma, but luckily, when the biopsy was done, what the vets found was gory abscess stuff. So DeeDog has to observe and only gets to look pitifully at the tennis balls, which for some reason are not on the fly.

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