Saturday, August 6, 2011

Oh, Happy Dogs!

How do you get four bad dogs to sit still for a moment?  You train them.  In particular, you teach them that they have to sit still, until called, if they want to get their afternoon meal.  And trust me, they really want their afternoon meal!  Left-to-right (click to enlarge), meet Race, Mo'i, Miki, and Lea.  All sitting oh-so-nicely until Debbie puts their food down and calls them, one at a time.

What happens after that?  Well, if you look at this picture (at left) closely you can pick up some distinct differences in their behavior.  This photo was taken at 1/100th of a second.  Note that Race (upper right hand corner) is blurred – that's because he eats as though his life depends on getting his kibble into his stomach as quickly as possible.  He attacks his food like a rabid badger.  But Miki (lower left) actually eats even faster than Race – but he's much more methodical and efficient about it, like a furry vacuum cleaner, slurping up the food.  Then he takes his time licking his bowl until it gleams like a freshly-detailed car.  Mo'i (lower right) attacks his food with vigor, but with much thought.  Stuff goes everywhere while he's eating, so some bits of kibble pass through his mouth multiple times.  From his perspective, that's probably a good thing.  Finally there's Lea (upper left).  She eats her food at about 1/3 the speed of the others.  She pauses frequently to growl preemptively at her fellow munchers, and we think that's her main pleasure in eating.  Eventually, after everybody else wanders away, she'll finish her meal.  We have no doubt that she has regrets when the meal is finished – not because the food is gone, but because the opportunity to growl at the others has ended...

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