Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What Max Wants

[posted by dinah and guest barker Max]

My husband keeps telling me that Max wants to be on the blog. Actually, he often tells me that Max thinks, feels, or wants many things. When I ask him how he knows, he responds with certainty, "You can tell."

From my perspective, it seems that Max wants a limited number of things:
  • Max wants meat, as evidenced by his position under the dinner table and by his eagerness to ingest meat, but no other food groups.
  • Max frequently wants to go outside, which becomes apparent when he stands at the door scratching the paint off, then eagerly races out when the door is held open for him.
  • Max, often only moments later, frequently wants to come inside, which he shows by performing the same behavior, only the paint gets scratched off the outside of the same door.
  • Max wants to bark hysterically at any passing dog, cat or rabbit. He is indifferent to squirrels.
  • Max wants his friend Tex to come over in the mornings, as is evidenced by the fact that he waits at attention for him then goes wild and greets him at the gate. Either he wants Tex to come over of he wants Tex's owner who feeds them both treats to come over, I can't tell who he is happier to see.
  • Max wants his butt scratched, as evidenced by the fact that he presents his hindquarters to everyone who enters our home (this can be embarrassing).
  • Max wants to go for a walk. Always, just touch his leash and even I can tell.

That's it for what I know that Max wants. He's never mentioned any interest in the blog to me. I'm hoping this will be some sort of dream come true for the dog, or if not, then perhaps for my husband.

Judging by the amount of chasing and bribing it took, I don't think Max wanted his picture taken today.


MT said...

If he took the bribe he obviously wanted to be on the blog in some sense. Chances are he'll have trouble seeing it at the refresh rate of your monitor though. Anyway, as a psychiatrist you should know one isn't always so enlightened as to want something one needs or which would make one happy. If you aim to please and control Max, you'll probably need to consider more than just those wants you can deduce and attend generally to his mood and his emotions. You're a lot more rich in data about Max's personality ("dogality?") than you suggest with that meager list of wants.

ClinkShrink said...

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend the picture on one of Fat Doctor's posts this week:

"Hi, my name's Rick"

Tell Max that Ygorski is inviting him over to dinner tonight. He's making broiled tuna.

Dinah said...

Max doesn't do fish.
He might, however, eat Ygorski; after what he did to the rabbit, I've never given him unleashed access to a cat.

MT said...

"Anthropomorphic ascription" is largely what we use to read other people even while they're jabbering. You think human toddlers know nothing of their parents' feelings before they can recite Goethe? Anthropomorphic ascription works pretty well for dogs too in my experience and as validated by my ability to control my dog's behavior. Given our recent common descent (we're all mammals) and many instances of parallel evolution in highly diverse social animals, it's hardly a surprise that it does. "Anthropomorphic" is sort of a misnomer.

MT said...

"[It's] exceedingly likely that any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well-developed, or anything like as well-developed, as in man."

Charles Darwin, as quoted by philosopher Mary Midgely, according to an Amazon customer review of one of her books. Just to point out this is not a radical perspective I've offered. At least not radical for a century or so among biologists.

NeoNurseChic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ClinkShrink said...

Murky, it's not a radical perspective at all. Quite fun to think about, actually. I really got into this in high school and as an undergrad thanks to Stephen J. Gould.

I see anthropomorphism as the inverse of sociobiology. If anthropomorphism means giving a moral explanation for innate instincts or behaviors, then sociobiology is explaining what appears to be moral behavior in terms of the "biological best". I guess the question then would be, from a sociobiologist's perspective, what possible genetic advantage could Max get by making sure that Dinah knew what he wanted? Particularly after he's already been neutered? (Sorry Max if that's too personal to blog about. But I think most people would have guessed anyway.)

MT said...

Domestic dogs and especially the pure breeds are very "artificially" and not much "naturally" selected, so neutered Max has a loophole and need not answer for himself. Actually in a way dogs may be telling us what's innate through behavioral genetic studies underway. Dogs are perfect for this research, because personality or "temperament" is a big element of what generations of breeders have been selecting for, and there's a wide diversity across breeds. I'd quibble about sociobiologists looking for the biological "best"...and actually I think Gould's would be with me (see The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panda's Thumb--I think this quibble was a hobby horse of his).

MT said...

Actually I think what's frightening Elmo is the thought of global warming. Is your power grid mostly coal driven? If you switch to solar I think you'll notice that outages and the UPS stop causing Elmo to freak out.

Dinah said...

Max is a mutt from the pound and his sexuality is none of anyone's affair.

ClinkShrink said...

I think I see the next Christmas gift craze: Freak Me Out Elmo, the transgendered phobic plush toy.

And you thought ducks were wierd.

MT said...

foofoo5, are you offering that etymology to defend against my assertion that "anthropomorphise" is sort of a misnomer? What I meant was that it implicitly labels "human nature" feelings or motives that may not be specific to humans. I'm saying the nature of humans isn't "human nature" in every sense of that term, which even religious people use and which I think connotes a view that people are special and distinct from animals rather than being animals ourselves. I guess I can be a little cryptic at times.

Sarebear said...

I LOVE when you can just really FEEL what a dog wants. This last winter, as my MIL's dog, Bear, was exhibiting signs that he'd probably need to be put down within months or less, I started giving him full-body massages/scritches.

You shoulda seen the look on his face, in his eyes, and his body language when I'd pause . . . He LOVED this!!! The fur would literally fly . . .

When I was done, I'd look like Fred Murray (was that the guy?) in the Shaggy Dog movies . . . my arms, torso, and legs COVERED in a ton of white fur . . .

This was also good therapy for me; a very sensory thing that was calming and distracting.

This was also my way of thanking Bear for what he'd given to me, and my way of saying goodbye. My FIL seemed put out by the need to vacuum wherever I had done this, but I stood up to that because I knew both Bear and I NEEDED this.

I feel that it helped me grieve after he was euthanized in February.