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Friday, February 26, 2010

TARBABY OUTSIDE

tarbaby meditating


17 degrees all night long. Wind all night. The trees on the ridge to my north roared all night. Wind chimes kept a symphony going all night. The electric clock lost 10 minutes in the night. In first light TarBaby wanted me to let him out the window. I got up and opened it. A gust of 17 degree air turned him away. He came back to try it again. This time a bigger gust about blew him off the window sill and he turned away even quicker than before. He came back and wanted to try it again. I knew this time he intended to go by the way he was standing. I raised the window and he jumped onto the railing around the little porch where I keep a cushion for the cats and some chairs. I had the impression he wanted to get outside while the dogs were away. He watches them all day now. He's learned their schedule. He acted like he had something he wanted to do, but didn't get past the cushion. He sat on it about 5 minutes in the wind and that was enough.




Later in the day, the dogs had been out of sight for over an hour. TarBaby had been watching from a new place he'd just discovered by a window that looks onto where the dogs hang out. He went to the door for me to let him out. He went right out and trotted toward the road where he crosses to go to the small barn across the road, the mouse hunting lodge. He's not tasted mouse blood in awhile. I was wondering if he planned to stay there until 5:30 when the dogs go home. An hour or so later I heard the dogs barking around the car. I knew they had TarBaby under the car. I'm glad it's low enough Martha can't get under there. If she were to slither under the car on her belly, TarBaby could slash his nose. I've an idea both of them are dogs that would take whatever a cat could do if they had intent to kill the cat. I don't know how they feel about TarBaby. It didn't sound like they were calling him out to play. I know they could smell that he was the cat that lives here. But they're so excitable and have no self control, I can't predict what they'll do. They've already learned how to go at something together, one snapping from the front, the other from behind. TarBaby might hold his own with one, but not 2.




I had to put on outdoor shoes as the shoes I wear in the house are slick on the bottom. Can't even stand up on ice in them. Sweater, heavy outdoor shirt over it, hat and gloves. I don't know how long I'll be. The dogs were out there barking so relentlessly I was anxious about rescuing TarBaby. I didn't know that was him under the car. Didn't question it either. Because I did know it was him. They'd already killed Posie the possum that lived here a few days ago.
The dogs continued to be gone, so I imagine TarBaby decided it was safe to walk back to the house. He made it to the car. Or maybe the car was as far as he went, but I doubt it. I didn't believe TarBaby would stay out very long with his summer coat of fur. He walked out the door with such intent, I don't believe it was to get outside and hunker down under the car. He had something on his mind. He was spotted walking between the barn and the car. I walked over there hollering at the dogs, which was like hollering at the wind. It was TarBaby.




When I reached them, they came jumping around me, then back to TarBaby and back to me, out of their minds with excitement, like they were saying to me, we found a cat, we found a cat. I yelled at them with tone of voice sounding serious, like the giant's about to cut loose and you better look out. The more intent I sounded, the more obedient they became. When I had the full attention of both of them, I started walking the other direction, away from the house and down the bank where they wouldn't be able to see TarBaby run across the road. I trusted that TarBaby's mind and mine worked well enough together that we could operate like the dogs hunt together in setting up TarBaby's escape. I walked the dogs away from the car and in short order Jolene went bounding off barking at something, Martha on her way too. Martha waits behind and lets Jolene do the fast running, because her legs are twice as long as Martha's. She keeps Jolene in sight and when Jolene runs out of sight, Martha runs up to the next place to watch her from, or turns back. If Jolene lights out after a deer, Martha automatically comes back. Jolene is doing what only fast dogs can do. She can chase a deer. She'll be gone awhile playing chase.




TarBaby ran out from under the car as soon as the dogs were away from the car and they never noticed. Back at the house TarBaby was waiting in a chair on the porch out the bedroom window. I opened the window and he didn't have to think about it. His fur was sticking straight out all over, his tail fluffed out like a black squirrel tail. It wasn't because he was cold, either. He was making himself look the biggest he can look for the dogs. This is a good example how fear can look like aggression. I remember from childhood not to let a dog see your fear. It makes them attack. But I wonder if it's because the physical manifestation of fear, to automatically swell up, just like the animals do, gets read as aggression by the dog, meaning you're ready for a fight. I don't know. I've been told, too, that dogs can smell fear. I don't doubt it. I can also see fear attracting a dog to attack. Predators in the wild pick the weakest gazelles from the herd. The weak ones are easy prey.




Whatever the case, TarBaby was scared and I was too, because the dogs are so out of control. I haven't had a chance to spend time outside with them because it's always cold and mostly ice. I want to get out there with them and do some walking, get them used to understanding I want them to come to me when I call. They're very obedient already to tone of voice. They get it. They've taught me to use tone of voice, which works every time. They're so responsive to it I seldom have to growl. They're at a perfect age for teaching and I'm not going out in this cold and ice. The temperature might rise above freezing some time in the future, but I'm not wasting any hope on it.
An hour or 2 after TarBaby was in the house I heard barking again out front. I looked up the hill across the road. They were barking at a young deer that was just standing there. Jolene would lunge from the front, the deer would get into a challenging stance. Martha bit a leg from behind. The deer moved a little bit. I couldn't tell if the dogs were wanting to play or hunt. Martha snaps at Jolene's back legs when she's wanting to play chase. Martha seemed to be thinking it was about play, but I can never tell about Jolene, Martha either. Jolene especially has a way about her that seems like she can switch from play to attack in a nanosecond. Martha has it too, but in Jolene it looks like it has potential to make her a ruthless dog. She needs to learn what the limits are to her dog temperament. They learn plenty at home. And they need to know plenty more. That is, if we're going to go on being friends, and we are going to go on being friends. They need to learn the rules that apply here like they've learned the rules that apply at their other home. The young deer took off loping, staying just ahead of Jolene, playing chase. Martha watched them run out of sight into the woods. TarBaby watched from his window.












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