My dog, deprived of the need to hunt and gather, now recognizes UPS, FedEx, and postal trucks. Our regular carriers always offer him dog treats, and after six years of this luxury, Speck, the wonder Chihuahua, can spot one of those trucks a block away. Motivated by his stomach, my dog drags me to greet these men in uniform, even if we’re a mile from home and the driver is a complete stranger.

Darwin would be proud.

Once, when our mailman was on vacation and a naïve new female carrier stepped into his route, she encountered my charging Chihuahua eager to greet her and secure his reward. She panicked and reached for the pepper spray.

“Around here, all the delivery people offer the dogs cookies,” I said, stepping in harm’s way to protect my dog. “They work much better than assault weapons.” In other words, more flies with honey than vinegar. She looked at me dubiously as if I were conning her, and I could tell my dog wouldn’t be getting any love from this woman.

Not only can my dog feed himself courtesy of delivery trucks, he’s also learned to compensate for the absence of trees in our neighborhood. Living beachside, we’re more about sand, concrete, and carelessly tossed garbage, so my dog has taken to peeing on abandoned plastic bags, which I now refer to as urination destinations.

Had we bred our animal, would he have passed this learned behavior onto the next generation?

Unfortunately, that’s a question that will go untested, for young Speck was such a horny little beast, gleefully humping any guest who gave him access by sitting upon our couch, that there was no doubt that he’d have to be fixed. While this is the humane request of animal advocates, Speck could never have escaped our third floor condo and repopulated the neighborhood. First of all, he’s never attempted the sex act with another dog. Second, there aren’t a lot of options in his height category. But regardless, for the comfort and sanity of my human guests, young Speck was clipped.

While Speck doesn’t have to forage for food or a safe place to sleep, he has modified his behavior to live in a human world, as have I to accommodate my loving pet.

When I first brought our charming Chihuahua home, I swore I’d never allow him to sleep on my bed, but I hadn’t taken into account his unstoppable will or cold winter nights and my long time single status. But trust me, our affection begins and ends with cuddling. In an ever-evolving world, we all come up with our own methods of survival.


Willie Baronet said...


Emily said...

urination destination is a great phrase! I used to have a cat that I'd let curl up with me when it was cold.

brainhell said...

> Darwin would be proud.

I think it would be Pavlov.

Anonymous said...

That so funny. I always alert visitors not to scratch my cats or they'll follow them home. I'm not particularly fond of that breed but I also think I might have just changed my mind. And my cats are gettng old and sometimes there's a lapse in direction to their urination destination. I'll never think of their litter the same way.