You have heard me say before that many quirky and sometimes unexpected behaviors our animals' display are based on anxiety.
Take our dog Scout, for example. As I have mentioned in several podcasts, Scout was very anxious when he came to us as an eight-month-old pup.
Back then, he gnawed himself out of a crate, noshed on door frames, and buried food in the yard. He doesn’t do either of the former these days, but he still has a funny relationship with food. I see it most nights. When David or I eat a snack, Scout also asks for a snack. Not a dog snack, a human snack. One specific human snack. Stacey’s Cinnamon and sugar pita chips. This pita chip is holy for this dog. He slowly brings his nose toward it if I hold a chip out to Scout. He sniffs the chip, then opens his mouth and gently takes the chip between his teeth, and brings it to his spot on the sofa.
He will settle the chips to the left or right next to his front legs. Then he lifts his head, sometimes staring off into the distance. Sometimes he looks at me to see if I am aware of his behavior. Sometimes I don't say anything, but sometimes I get into a dialogue with him.
“Hey, Scouty, you asked for a chip. You got to eat it.”
Scout looks down at the chip, looks up, and stares into the distance.
“Really? You asked for it, and you’re not eating it?”
Scout looks down at the chip and back up at me.
“I bet you deserve it. You have done a lot of work today, right David?” I turn to David, and he agrees.
Yep, he did help me with the firewood all day.
I turn to Scout. “I knew it. You deserve a special treat.”
Scout takes his nose to the chip, sniffs it, and nudges it deeper into the sofa.
“Come on, Scouty, “ I grab a chip, “I deserve one, and you deserve one.
I demonstratively take the chip into my mouth and chew.
Scout touches the chip with his nose. Takes it between his teeth then puts it back down.
“You were a good watchdog too. I know that for sure. You took care of the horses and the kitties today.”
Scout sighs and eyes the chip.
“You really deserve it. You do a lot around here.”
He finally takes the chip and eats it.
And how fascinating. Isn’t it?
As a pup, Scout and his siblings were found in a field in the South. Scout once showed me how he and his older brother caught mice to feed their mini family.
It took an effort to get food.
Hence, he sneaks good morsels out into the yard whenever he can pull one past us. We usually know when he walks in with a dirty nose. He will have dug a hole, dropped the morsel into it, and then pushed the dirt and leaves around to cover it up.
One never knows when one needs a reserve.
Especially since Scout has free choice food. He can nosh and nibble all day long. If he runs out of food, he touches the bowl with his paw, something David taught him, indicating he needs more. And we always respond by giving him more.
Our nurturing is not overriding his instinct to put something aside. Just in case. To survive.
Our pita chip game feels different to me. I sometimes wonder if he and I are vibing on the same frequency in the evening. Both Scout and I do a lot during the day. And at night, it is sometimes hard for me to chillax after an active day. And the same is true for him. And even as we sit down, watch a show, and have a snack, there is usually one more night feeding ahead of us, which keeps our bodies activated. We feel not yet deserving of the final exhale of the day.
So, playing the chip game is a great way to list all the amazing things we did all day. It is a way for me to thank Scout for all he did. It is a way for me to recognize the things I accomplished. And it is a fun way for us to be present with each other and have a meaningful chat.
We all have quirky behaviors, and we also have certain beliefs. Both human and animal.
And sometimes, we trigger one another’s experience or history. And sometimes we feed, haha pun intended, each other’s limiting belief, a.k.a. I can only eat that special treat when I worked hard.
I can easily compliment and acknowledge Scout for his hard work. Doing the same for myself is less natural but so important. Because all our relationships start with us. If I can hold myself with a sense of love and gentleness, Scout will benefit as well.
Does your animal have a quirky behavior that matches your own?
Do you feel your animal might act on a similar belief to your own?
Write me a note, post your comments. I can’t wait to see your feedback.