Other species provide lessons on marriage
My husband, Erik, and I have two horses, two dogs and two kittens, and I must say that watching them go through their daily antics is like a taking a college course in relationships. Take Mercy and Big Mare, our two paint mares. I remember the day about two years ago we brought Mercy to our place to live with us. Big Mare big (bet you already figured that out) and muscular already had established herself as the queen of her own castle, or at least of her own pasture. We wondered whether the two horses were going to be able to cohabit since Big Mare had developed somewhat of a reputation for picking on other horses. But it only took a couple of hours for these two girls to bond, and now, theyre inseparable. That doesnt mean they dont occasionally bother each other. Sometimes, Ill see them kick up their heels at each other (especially around feeding time). Big Mare can be a real you-know-what. Shell nudge Mercy out of the way with a forceful nod of the head during carrot-treat time, or firing back with a quick rear hoof jab to shoo her away from a tempting pile of hay during breakfast. Mercy can also be testy, turning on Big Mare, defiantly presenting her rump to her girlfriend in a characteristically anti-social gesture.But more often than not, you can see these two wandering around the pasture together, standing side by side, just knowing that the other is there.And when we catch one of the horses for some solo riding in our arena, the other girl stomps and runs around dramatically, tail in the air, ears twitching, whinnying loudly because her best friend has been temporarily removed. My husband says those two act a lot like a married couple.Our cats arent much different. George is 6 months old, and Lilly is just 3 months. When we first brought little Lilly home, we were nervous for her. George looked so big in comparison. Would he harm the teeny calico with rough play?We were horrified to hear the squeals of agony coming from Lilly that first night after George batted her in the face a couple times, and then launched a full frontal attack on her tiny body.We pulled them apart, scolded George and rescued Lilly, scooping her up and creating a protective haven of blankets and pillows for her on the couch. Amazingly enough, she had no visible wounds, but we werent taking any chances. We werent about to let big, bad George go after her again. But it wasnt two seconds before Lilly escaped from her nest, tore across the living room floor and piled into George, creating a noisy kitten ball in the process. She liked this game. It was a game to her, and to George. From that point on, we left them to their own devices.Now, just as often as not, George and Lilly will be curled up in each others arms (do cats have arms? I guess I mean legs), sleeping angelically. Thats in between the times theyre tearing around the house, attacking each other. My husband says those two act a lot like a married couple. Jo Mama and Kody are kind of an odd couple. Jo is a 6-year-old golden Lab, a former wheelchair assistance dog in training who failed her vocation, not because she wasnt a good girl, but because she was too happy and friendly. Kody is a year-old Aussie shepherd, a goofy, excitable boy constantly trying to figure out how much you adore him. (Do ya? Do ya? Huh? Huh? Huh!?!)The two of them go back and forth. When they play together, they play hard, and when they sleep, they sleep hard. Sometimes, Jo just needs her space. If Kody is in Jos face just a little too much, shell pull back and lie down behind the couch. He usually leaves her alone during those times. But when theyre apart when one is outside, and one is inside after a while, youll see Jo go to the door so youll open it and let Kody in, or youll hear Kody crying just a little at the door, just because he wants to be near Jo.My husband says those two act a lot like a married couple. Carrie Click is a reporter at the Post Independent. Shell save a discussion on how species interrelate with one another (you know, dog and cat, horse and dog, cat and horse) for another column.
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