Shutterstock photo Copyright: Andy Dean Photography
It was with the knowledge that Donald Trump was the American president elect and that Leonard Cohen was dead that I woke up early a couple of weeks ago and decided, curled up with my two rescue dogs, that going back to sleep was the best decision I would likely make all day.
A study in opposites, one of the few character traits my dogs share is a love of comfort and remind me constantly that preconceived assumptions on breed-specific behaviours are about as accurate as horoscopes and fortune cookies. My big brave Doberman is afraid of the neighbourhood cats and, when stressed, likes to bury his face, preferably into a human body.
He'll bark dutifully at a knock on the door and then run away leaving me to deal with the situation and assumes his end of the contract has been met.
My 'high-energy' Jack Russell appears to have narcolepsy and sometimes needs to be carried halfway on her walk with the hope that at least she'll walk home on her own four legs.
“It's like trying to get toothpaste back into the tube,” said my son of the ordeal of zipping her rubbery frame into her little coat in preparation for going outside in any weather colder than 5º Celsius. This is not, I’m told, the way a Jack Russell should behave.
I once had a cat that played fetch, faithfully and repeatedly retrieving a little ball of crumpled cigarette package foil while our grumpy, moody dog was quickly dubbed a 'Labrador Ignoreit' for his complete lack of interest in sticks or tennis balls lobbed onto land or water.
With an indignant air, he'd glance at our frantic happy faces, loudly encouraging him to go fetch what we'd tossed and perceptibly roll his eyes.
Our 'intelligent' Border collie, Lady, though blessed with a good heart, was flat out as dumb as a bag of hammers. In one of our first apartments, painting cows on the kitchen walls seemed like a good idea at the time. I guess I did a pretty good job because as soon as she saw them, she began barking.
“It's instinct,” said my boyfriend. “She's trying to round them up.”
Giving due credit, however, she was an excellent mouser while our fat, disengaged cat stared disgustedly out the window, tail flicking in annoyance.
If the exception proves the rule, or the existence of the rule, animals have taught me that genus or species characteristics are sometimes merely suggestions and that, thank heavens, there will always be outliers to throw a spanner into the preconceived works. In other words, quirks on this level should exist to keep things interesting.
But in the greater scheme of things, when all is not as it should be, pay attention to the dogs. Roll over, cuddle up, and go back to sleep.