Thursday, July 7, 2011

Older Dog Wisdom:Tux 21 - Pawing the Ground

Tux has developed a new habit that has us flummoxed. I’m not sure why he’s started doing this nor how he knows to do it. Perhaps he thinks he’s the only dog in the world doing it. What I do know for sure is that, in his 11 years, he’s never done it before.
The Habit
When he’s finished doing his business, he has begun pawing the ground with some vigor. First, he gets going with his hind legs and then he adds his front legs. It reminds me of a bull pawing the ground before he charges. Tux, however, charges no where nor no one. He does, however, shower us with leaves, twigs, grass, and the occasional dirt clod. Anyone standing behind him is pelted with debris and, if there’s a breeze, he even manages to get some on his own back. I learned the hard way to wait until he’s done to bend down to pick up after him.
He doesn’t do it occasionally. He does it every time he relieves himself. He’s not posturing because there are other dogs around. Well, his sister is with us, but, as he’s said numerous times, she's only a girl.
I’ve thought about the whys of his doing this for a while, but cannot determine the purpose for this ritual. If he were using only his front paws, I’d say he was emulating the cats he’s shared his life with until recently. We don’t have a cat now, although, I’ve wanted one for some time, but can’t figure out where to put a litter box.
But I digress.
The other day, Grace did the same thing without the enthusiasm Tux brings to the ritual. Her pawing was dainty and half-hearted - as if she wasn’t sure why she was doing it, but because her brother was doing it, she was going to be supportive even if it was a stupid thing to be doing. She’s not nearly into it as Tux. She forgets most of the time to do it.
I was waiting to pick up my nephew a few days ago, and watched as a dog and his owner came toward us in the green space across the street from my nephew’s home. The dog paused at the trash can, lifted his leg, and then pawed the ground once, twice.
Encoded Genetically
Since seeing the other dog do it, I decided that the pawing is genetically encoded in a dog’s DNA. Tux has no say in the matter, he has to do it.
What I’m pondering now is why has it taken 11 years for Tux’s DNA to kick in and remind him to do this? I’m now reconsidering the DNA theory because of the 11-year-lapse and because he still squats like a girl to pee. Surely, if it was DNA controlled, lifting his leg would be of more importance than pawing the earth. After all, who wants to spend a lifetime peeing on one’s own front leg?
Tux has lifted his leg twice in his life and didn’t see any reason to continue the practice. He enjoys flinging leaves and twigs out behind him so he continues to do that even though I’m sure he doesn’t understand why he does it, nor, indeed, does he care why he does it - it makes him feel good, so he does it.
Lesson Learned
Perhaps our lesson this week is if writing makes us feel good then we should continue to write even in the face of rejection after rejection. We certainly won’t be the first author to face tens, if not hundreds, of rejections. Some of the greats were rejected many, many times and they didn’t quit writing, did they?

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