Over the weekend I went hiking with my dogs. It was a perfect day -- not too hot, and the good company of a friend and her dogs. Mystic suddenly veered off the path, disappeared for a few seconds, and came out of the brush proudly displaying his find. It was the bone of some poor deer that had died from unknown causes. Mystic saw it as a prize -- proudly holding it in his mouth and running down the path. I saw it as a bit disgusting.
One of the most wonderful thing about pets is that animals aren't people. Most pets enjoy our attention, and require very little for them to love us. One of the worst things for many people is that animals aren't people.
Let's face it, we find poop disgusting -- while many dogs like to sniff, roll in, or even worse, eat it. We don't like it when cats scratch up our furniture. Rabbit biting you when you reach in the cage? Almost unforgivable! We want our pets to stop doing such offensive and disagreeable behaviors.
But the truth is -- animals are not people. They have their own instincts, behaviors, and a very different way of looking at the world. While this makes them fascinating to be around, it can also be vexing as a pet owner dealing with behaviors that may not fit in with the "human" way of doing things.
While some of these behaviors can be trained out or modified so that the pet fits in better in our families, we also have to realize that there may have to be some compromise and even allowances of our pet's natural behaviors.
Instead of punishing a cat for scratching -- which is a natural cat behavior, we can teach them to only scratch on a scratching post instead. Instead of getting mad when the rabbit bites and decide not to handle them at all, we can find ways to make it so that the rabbit doesn't feel a need to bite. Rabbits can be territorial and dislike having their space invaded. Allowing the rabbit to come out of his cage on his own instead of being pulled out will make things easier for both of you.
Many dog owners would have made their dogs drop the disgusting deer bone. But I couldn't see any reason that Mystic shouldn't continue to carry it -- since it made him happy. The compromise was that he wasn't bringing it home with us -- I made him drop it at the edge of the parking lot.