Another Life

Bit of the Guillemots for you this morning, with Get Over It

Got to love the handsome Fyfe Dangerfield.

My only criticism is that he doesn’t do quite enough stuff. I guess that makes what he has done so much more valuable though. I’d want him to release a new album every year. I wouldn’t even care if it wasn’t his best stuff. Well, I might, if it were very bad.

I think it’s been one of those weeks where you feel very much that the world is in retrograde and communication has been unusually complicated. I had a Monday morning last week of chasing up various organisations to find bills, sort out refunds, try and work out where I’m supposed to be and when – and none of them with any joy at all. I hate days like that, where you get so little done and all communication ends in a dead end. It’s frustrating when you can’t sort out plans because you’re waiting on a date to be confirmed or a venue to be agreed. I wouldn’t mind but these are huge organisations, so it does feel a lot like the world can’t be arsed at the moment or that it has too much on its plate to cope with. It’s the first rule of business: your communication has to be effective or else everything else suffers.

The week ended a bit like that as well, with a rather long conversation about a dog (when is it not?) and whether he could cope with this home or that home, only for it then to transpire that the person who I’m having the conversation with is trying to encourage me to let the dog go to a home that we have previously said is unsuitable. I don’t think it’s crossed wires when that happens. I think it’s the deliberate manipulation of a conversation, as if I’d made a bad decision in the first place. That makes me so mad. If you’re going to try to slip something by me and make me go back on something I’ve previously said by trying to manipulate me, then what kind of person do you think I am? Another person who now tells me that I’m hard-headed, unfeeling and stubborn. Join the queue. What makes it worse was all the unnecessary buttering up that went before and the endless questions about whether I thought the dog could live in this circumstance, or that circumstance, trying to get me to agree to a thing before adding a rather large issue in the fineprint. I’m sure now that the person went away feeling I am unnecessarily difficult and hard without thinking that I would have appreciated full honesty in the first place and it would have wasted considerably less of my time. Since when did direct communication become such a rare commodity?

I’m currently reading Marc Bekoff’s book “The Emotional Lives of Animals” which is a great book – all animal lovers should read it. It’s to prepare for my next assignment on the emotions animals feel. I know there is the notion that animals experience fewer or rawer emotions than we do. I’d revisited Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence to read it with animals in mind – a lot of it is irrelevant in that context of course – and in fact, I ended up not thinking about emotions at all and thinking about social skills. It really did make me think that animals are much better at communicating than we are. On Saturday mornings, if I’ve done the drop-off in Poitiers of our dogs travelling up to Northern Europe, I take Heston with me to drop the van off. He loves to go in the van and he loves to go to the shelter. The shelter is like a disco to Heston, full of girls to flirt with, new mates to meet and boys to size up to. As always it is interesting to see how much he prefers dogs to people. Where there are other dogs to be met, Heston doesn’t give a stuff about people. There could be fifty gazillion people there and Heston wouldn’t see them if there was one single dog. I love the dynamic when we get to the refuge – he just stands there whilst all the dogs come and have a smell. At one point, he was surrounded by Maya, Belle, Diva, Aglae, Cachou and Lulu all having a smell. He got humped by Cachou, the ancient poodle who is also out in the courtyard. I have no idea why Heston accepts being humped by a geriatric poodle with a heart condition but why if Amigo tried to do the same thing, he’d go mental. Dogs manage to master communication much more effectively often than we do. Even if it’s a very definitive “F@%k Off!”

I must say though that some dogs have often less effective dog-dog communication where humans have not done their job, especially if they’ve been deprived of the occasion to ‘chat’ to other dogs or only ever done it in being behind a gate. Féfelle is a bit block-headed when he is with familiar dogs, though he is perfectly fine around ones who are new to him. It’s like he’s very respectful at first and then, once he knows you, he’s like Tigger, bouncing all over you. He would absolutely love to play, but not a one of my dogs trusts him to do so. Heston does love to play, and has played with males bigger and badder than him, but he’s not having it with Féfelle. I think he understands it’d be a bit like boxing with Mike Tyson: you start off following the best of Queensbury’s rules and you end up getting your ear bitten off. That is an enormous shame for Féfelle, as play is exactly what he needs. Funny that dogs have a trust instinct and know who isn’t going to end up crossing lines you’ve drawn in the sand. And if dogs trust (and why wouldn’t they, since they can be suspicious?) I mean, those are complicated emotions that ask you to make judgements and predictions about future events. By the way, trust, suspicion and social bonding are all within a dog’s emotional remit, since they have oxytocin, the “social bonding” hormone, just as we do.

Marvellous, isn’t it? A dog knows exactly who’s trustworthy and who is not. And just like Heston and Féfelle, if you don’t get it right first time, you might not get the chance again. But if I trust you and you accidentally hurt me, then I might let you off.

So Much Love this Monday to the Animal Kingdom who may turn out to be much better at social stuff than we are. And Much Love to my crazy friends who have to put up with my outrage and misery when human communication fails.

Have a lovely week, all ❤




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