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Four-Legged Perspectives
Notes on Domesticated Animals and Aggression: 2/8/2023
© 2023 James LaFond
AUG/22/23
James Anderson, writer, fighter, historian, rugby player and member of a U.S. Coast Guard cutter crew, visited the Cedarstead today, noting that it is paradise compared to Portland where last we trained.
The Colonel and Bride are gone for a week and I am watching their house, their chickens, their two dogs and their two cats. This morning, while having coffee on the porch, I noted that Amos, the big dog, is jealous of my attention and has been chasing the cats away from me. He has killed various critters their size. So I brought him with me to The Captain’s place while I trained with James.
Introductions complete, James was eager to “Rock and roll,” and we got to it.
Toby, “The HNC, who normally watches the Captain’s sons wrestle and then starts chewing on the one who is on the bottom, took one look at James and I punching each other and went inside, sure that “This is some white people stuff.”
Amos is used to sitting down and watching humans do senseless things together, like dig ditches and split wood. He took a ringside seat in the gravel driveway and watched. Then, when it became obvious, that for every time his door opener, bowl filler, can opener and back scratcher, punched the bigger man that he was being punched five times, he began to help me out, grabbing James’ ankle, nipping his knee, getting between us, facing James.
The Captain took Amos inside. Then, by the time we were on sticks, Toby had bamboozled Amos into going outside, probably with promises of the Big Meat Munching Mountain and he came to us. When he saw James and I pick up sticks, he retired under cover of a small tree and a ring of rocks and observed from a distance.
Animals have a weapon sense.
Likewise, when we were boxing, the evil cat, Annie, a killer in tuxedo, seemed to understand what we were doing, pawing at each other, and prowled around, doing Cat Fu forms and otherwise reminding us apes that we are plodding clods by comparison to her dance of 20 clawed death.
Again, when we crossed sticks, Annie leapt up on the roof and retired sphinx like to her nighttime roost.
The pack-attacking dog and the night-skulking cat both have an inbuilt fear of armed humans.
After 90 minutes of sparring, I found myself wading into ten punches for every one I landed, clinching up with the light heavyweight with 30 inch thighs, and so called it a day.
As soon as we put the sticks away, Amos came out from under the Japanese maple to socialize. The Captain and his Bride offered lunch and Amos and Annie came inside with us. Annie marked us with her head and tail as allies and Amos gravitated to young James, wanting to buddy up with the Alpha Man, rather than the rusty tomato can of an Omega Man.
James is very mature for his 25 years and discussed duty “on the boat” with us. Amos could not have been happier, then to be sitting next to the guest chair at the head of the table as three men spoke. James rewarded him with scratches and head rubs and Amos’ pack instincts were soothed.
The first time I was Amos’ buddy for the evening, he lifted the lid on the mud room bench with his nose to show me where his food was. He may act, “dumb as the day is long,” but he is an astute observer of human behavior and knows which ones know what things. He knows that I do not drive and never gets excited when I walk towards a truck. When I show up wearing the duster he howls in joy, that we will be going on a hike.
With James having departed after a pleasant lunch, I headed up to the Colonel’s place to tend to the chickens, find the cat that Amos had chased off, and warm the house. I left Amos outside while I fed both the cats, one having been brought in by the neighbor in my absence.
There was a cocaphony of chicken politics out back, as the pen wraps around the back half of the house. It sounded like an attack of many upon one. But there was something else—Amos was in the woods behind the pen with a chicken in his mouth, a notorious, tan, runnagate hen who still manages to leap the fence even after the resent wing-clipping.
I went outside and he heard me, bringing the hen around the barn. I saw no blood, the hen was alive and looking at me with fright. I said, “Amos, bring her here.”
He looked at me, dropped her, bit her, and ripped out some feathers.
I said, “Amos, bring her!” and headed to the pen. He picked her up and followed, and I figured the hen would be okay. Then, when I opened the gate and turned, he dropped her, bit her again and again, as she flopped, ripped out some feathers, and took her over to the porch to chew on. That is a bad day at the chicken office.
Perhaps he was showing me his worth?
I then looked right and saw that a gang of hens had murdered a lone hen, who was laying maimed against the back of the house. Chickens are so nasty, and are cannibals. As I walked into that area of the pen, the chickens there ran like criminals from a giant cop, ran like movie raptors. Eight foot chickens would be terrifying!
Back around front, the chicken was dead and discarded, Amos having no interest in it as food after his application of deadly force to keep chicken kind in its place.
Not trusting him with the cats, I left him on the porch when I returned here, his sister, Izzy, now aging rapidly and wanting to lounge before the fire.
As I padded through the cedar forest I heard something brush a scotch broom behind me and it was Amos, wanting nothing more than to move with a man and then sit among men as they relax and knit their bonds. He sits outside this mudroom window, resting his head on 12-foot ladder lying there, and looking in, assuring me that he is ready to rock and roll.
When the Colonel and his wife are home, If I leave drunk, Izzy and Amos will escort me. One night, I left sober, and there they sat on the porch. Then, halfway through the murky wood, my flashlight went out. It was a moonless night so I tilted back my eye patch so I could see some tree shapes with that eye—and there they were, padding up behind me, having sensed that I needed a guide, Izzy by my thigh and Amos leading the way.
The animals we have dragged down the stairs of Time with us, foremost among them the dogs, perhaps recall more of our earliest associations than we do.
Golden Calf
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