Sunday, February 19, 2012

Teach Me How to Rat Terrier with Kelsae

Kelsae doesn't really like writing descriptions about herself, especially in the third person, so she's going to keep this short. She has a blog. Also a Twitter. Come and say hi.

When I was a child I had no imagination. As a toddler, even the pictures I drew lacked any element of fantasy or creativity. Each drawing was a portrait of someone I knew - usually my father or brother - and they were as true-to-life as my two-year-old self could get them (we're talking anatomically correct here, people. No, I'm not kidding). This lack of creativity permeated every part of my life. Even when playing, I was unable to grasp the concept of "pretend." My mother would pull out our vast collection of costumes or the Fisher Price Little People (did anyone else have these? They were the best!) and say: "Okay, let's play {insert some kind of fictional theme here}," and I would always respond: "But how do we do that?" I just didn't get it. I was amazed that my mother could not only concoct such elaborately themed scenarios, but that she somehow knew the names of every single one of my toys as well as their life stories. 

My mother was concerned by my lack of imaginative skills, so she started inviting over older children to show me how to play. They too impressed me with their seemingly endless knowledge of imaginary worlds, so I was more then willing to let them do all of the imagining for me. Eventually, after years of practicing (no, that isn't an exaggeration - it really did take years) I figured out how to play like a normal little kid - using my own imagination and everything.

Fast-forward twenty-ish years later to shortly after my marriage, when my husband and I adopted our first (and now only) dog - Mouse, the noble rat terrier. 

See? He's so noble.

Mike and I were so excited to be new doggy-parents that we spent hours at assorted pet stores testing and eventually purchasing what we considered to be the perfect collection of dog toys. When we brought Mouse home we enthusiastically piled all of his toys around him on the floor, but he was more interested in sleeping and peeing on the carpet. We attributed his disinterest to his being so young, but as the weeks went by I realized that our dog - much like the childhood version of myself - had no idea how to play. Mike and I did our damnedest to teach him games like fetch and tug-of-war, but nothing seemed to click. It wasn't until one evening, when Mike was watching a show on Animal Planet all about rat terriers, that Mouse finally figured it out. He seemed to be studying the screen as the little terriers ran around, shaking toys and growling and then - eureka! - Mouse ran from the room and returned, triumphantly displaying a rope toy between his teeth and mimicking the very behavior that he had just witnessed.

Needless to say, Mike and I were thrilled that our dog wasn't completely retarded (and that we hadn't wasted money on all of his toys), but I still can't help being surprised that it took a television show to teach Mouse how to be... well, a dog. Then again, it took me years and a laundry list of playmates to figure out how to be a little kid, so I suppose I shouldn't judge.

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