One thing I’ve learned from a lifetime of dogs, the older ones always teach the younger ones all the bad habits. Not once ever have I seen a puppy learn a desirable habit from the resident dog.
Here’s a short laundry list of the current canine wisdom being imparted to the younger generation (Angus) by the older generation (Zackie-O):
Try to eat mulch any time they take you on a walk.
As a result of this bad habit, both dogs carry stuffed animals in their mouths when we walk them. If their mouths are occupied, there is far less consumption of foreign objects. Note that I did not say “no consumption” — they’re clever that way.
One unexpected consequence of this solution is that our dogs have developed strange communication patterns. Instead of barking at the other dogs, they energetically squeak their toys at them. No one in the neighborhood takes our dogs seriously anymore.
Bark LOUDLY to show your enthusiasm. Do it every time they try to feed you (or you think it’s time to feed you) and when it’s time to walk (or you think you ought to be walked).
I believe the motivation behind this one is to train us. Think dog as drill sergeant. In the military, new recruits are constantly yelled at and stressed. The purpose of this is to make sure a soldier can perform under duress. The dogs are trying to make sure that if there’s a natural disaster, or the pandemic worsens, or war breaks out, we’ll still be able to feed and walk them despite the distractions.
Sleep next to the female. Contort her body like a pretzel. It will keep her supple and she will walk you better.
I can attest that I do not walk better after nights when I’m bent and twisted around a dog body. In contrast, they always look like they’re sleeping peacefully and are spry and well-rested the next day.
Here are the weak spots in the fence.
For a while, Zackie-O was determined to find her face on the back of a milk carton. She had been escaping the backyard by executing a commando crawl under the chicken wire at the bottom of the split rail fence. Rich spent several hours staking down some weak areas, but she still found a way to go rampaging through the neighborhood. We eventually turned on the Garmin Astro GPS and put the tracking collar on her. Upon inspection (see picture below), it at first appeared that she’d been leaping the fence, since the point of departure had been staked down and reinforced with stronger chicken wire. Also, there were no disturbances at ground level (thank you SAR man-tracking training) to indicate more commando crawling. We eventually found another weak spot very close to the reinforced spot.
Today, we learned that she’s taught Angus how to force his much larger frame under the fence. I heard a fracas outside and couldn’t find Angus inside. While I was looking for him in all his usual spots, someone rang the doorbell.
Neighbor: “Do you own a chocolate lab?”
Me: “Uhhh….” We own a black lab mix, but close enough, I guess. “Yesss… Is that him fomenting a riot?”
Neighbor: “Yes, yes it is. Oh look! There he goes. He just went back under the fence.”
Try to educate them when you can. Especially in physics. They’re quite weak in physics.
The relativistic Doppler effect is the change in frequency (and wavelength) of light, caused by the relative motion of the source and the observer.
Redshift and blueshift describe how light shifts toward shorter or longer wavelengths as objects in space (such as stars or galaxies or rampaging dogs) move closer or farther away from us. When an object moves away from us, the light is shifted to the red end of the spectrum, as its wavelengths get longer.
Angus appeared to be a chocolate lab because he was moving so very quickly away from the observer. The Doppler shift caused his black coat to shift towards the red spectrum as the wavelength increased.
And I bet you thought the lesson would involve Newtonian physics, maybe describing the laws of motion and the effects of gravity during walks with dogs determined to go their own way.
Our dogs teach quantum physics. They’re clever that way.
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