It is so easy to project your personality and thoughts into your animals. Perhaps that is what makes this blog such an easy way for me to ensure I am writing a little bit every single day. Speaking with friends and family only makes it clearer that I am not insane: Maggie is my personality, my soul out of my body, Elsie is Donatello, Otto is David (one of our friends), and Ace is a teenager, or independent creature, that lives in our house.
Yet, sometimes I read things that discourage such claims as animals having personalities, thoughts, and dreams. I try to consider this perspective and decide why I am so vehemently against accepting this idea as true. Other than the times I have witnessed my dogs dream, I could not really bring much more evidence to the table. But, I have thought about it and I have three main reasons to support my theory that animals have personalities and not just the ones we project on them, but real, actual personalities.
- Grumpiness: Maggie was grumpy Saturday. If you pet her, she would growl. If Elsie got in her face, she would growl. And, no matter what I did, she ignored me. Not Donatello, just me. She would not sit with me on the couch, come when I called, or play with me. It has never happened before: Maggie is obedient and sweet and loving. I was a little caught off guard. After a little bit, I held her and played with her without Elsie around. She resisted at first and then played and kissed me. I guess she was a little grumpy that she had to share her Mum and that Elsie has had a bit more attention lately. This display makes me certain that dogs have their own thoughts and even some emotions.
- Daydreaming: Below are pictures of Ace and Maggie actively daydreaming. The wind was not stirring leaves, no critters were creeping or scampering in our yard, nor was anything else outside worth focused attention. Yet, both animals are completely lost to their thoughts. I think what sells it the most to me is the abandoned bowl at Maggie’s chest. She chose to stare and think rather than eat. You cannot convince me this is the behaviour of an instinct only driven creature.
- Sense of Humour: I know people with less sophisticated a sense of humour than my animals. Example: Otto will sit above Ace. He will then tag one side of Ace, hide, tag the other side, hide, repeat. As he does this, he watches us as if to say, “Can you believe this fool?” Example 2: Otto will taunt Elsie. Get her all excited about playing tag with a kitty (which Otto does like at times). He will lead Elsie to Ace, hide, and watch as panic and hilarity ensue (Ace does not, at all, ever enjoy playing tag with a puppy.
These intentional acts reassure me that dogs and cats and perhaps many other animals are actually very intelligent creatures with personalities and dreams of their own. Or maybe, as a writer, I just really, really want to see life, intellect, etc. every where I look.
Any thoughts or stories of your critters that prove they are smart, clever, and have their own personality? I would love to hear about your pet’s habits and nuances.