Monday, February 22, 2010

Paws of Fury and Something Else...My Story, Sticking to It

Ellie has made a shift in the nature of her relationships to the cats again. At least, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

It isn't that, if she is outside and she spies a cat out of the corner of her eye she doesn't rush towards it. Her drive instinct is REALLY strong. Kafka just hunkers down and ignores her, and Ellie will just move on to something more interesting, which is usually Socks. Socks might run, might jump up on the wall, sit and stare at her from the wall, or maybe walk along the wall. So, he's way more fun, and one might interpret this behavior as Socks having fun, egging her on.

We humans have changed our rules a bit, since Socks made the decision that he wasn't giving up his place in the house to a DOG. With Kafka, we use the cue 'Leave Kafka', should Ellie forget that Kafka is off limits. However, we just let Ellie and Socks work things out for themselves. What typically happens is that Socks will sit, staring at me, on the left side of my work chair, and Ellie hangs around her run on the right side of the chair. Or, Socks will sit in T's lap and stare at Ellie.

Both understand the clicker game very well. I click and reward for each minding their own business and I have gradually lengthened the amount of time required for compliance. I will say however, that Socks does tend to be the initiator of this clicker game.

Socks has the patience of Job, so sits until Ellie can't stand it anymore and leaves her spot to see what he's up to. He might ignore her, he might give her a warning stare, or he might leap up and smack the daylights out of her. I half believe that the fun for her has been his utter unpredictability, and how swiftly he shifts from stone buddha cat to paws of fury.

We've noticed how she has shifted from intense drive behavior to more of a play behavior. She tries play bow, she tries to get him to chase her (which is not currently allowed in the house, since it's a wild game).

This morning, something new. Ellie loves her Bunny, a small soft toy with long dangly legs. We play house fetch and house catch with Bunny. Today, she offered Socks her Bunny. Of course, he ignored her. But, she offered Bunny again, and then gave me Bunny. We had a few Bunny tosses, and Socks retired to a chair for a morning nap. She's been hanging close to me, just hanging out as I prepare for the day.

It's subtle, but she's gained a little something in how she understands how relationships work.

At least, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

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