Sunday, Feb. 08, 2004
Dear Diary:

The other night the spousal unit wanted to watch some stupid movie that had Ice-T in it, something involving Mars and aliens and things getting blown up.

I, on the other hand, wanted to watch an A&E documentary about cats.

Really, do I need to say more about what we watched? Oh, yes, I could pretend that there was a snowball's chance in heck that he was actually going to watch that Ice-T movie, but, well, who would I be kidding?

My thoughts, exactly.

Fortunately, after almost 30 years of marriage, the man has learned to accept life's cruel blows and he snuggled with me on the sofa to watch the cat documentary. Enid, our cat, immediately grabbed the other sofa and set to work methodically completing her badly needed 22 1/2 hours of daily sleep.

In the course of the documentary we saw not one but two cat wranglers demonstrate that it is indeed possible to teach cats to do tricks.


Doing Tricks.

On command.

I know. I am as incredulous about this as you are. Frankly, I'm still reeling. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed it.

There was a cat that would open sliding windows and walk through on command, another cat that would leap a low fence on command and a third cat that would run up and greet people on command.

From what we could see, the trick business had to involve something the cat already liked to do, combined with food rewards to reinforce the behaviour and to get the cat to do it on command.

"I am going to teach Enid a trick," the spousal unit announced.

"Me, too," I replied. I looked over at the little ball o' cat sleeping on the other sofa. "Sleep, Eenie, sleep," I commanded.

Little trooper that she is, Enid slept.

Proving just how picayune he can be at times, the spousal unit rolled his eyes and refused to accept that as a trick. I argued that it was obviously something the cat liked to do, that I had told her what to do and she'd done it.

Showing an somewhat rigid mindset, he insisted that the cat should be conscious for it to be counted as either a trick or cat wrangling. Well fine. Be that way. See if I care.

The spousal unit then announced that he's going to turn Enid into Enid Bojangles, The Cat Who Sings And Dances. See, every morning before he feeds her she gets up on her hind legs, dances around and trills a little song of joy. He's decided he's going to try to teach her to do this on command since this fits the criteria of being something the cat likes to do anyway and it has the added bonus of already being associated with food.

This morning the spousal unit filled the three cat dishes and as usual Norma and Zubby yelled at him to haul his butt and the dishes out to the porch and feed them. Meanwhile, Enid got up on her little hind legs and did The Dance of Foodie Joy while singing the "Boy I Loves To Eat" song.

The spousal unit tried to claim that this counted as cat wrangling but I refused to accept that cockamamie notion. I rolled my eyes and countered with the argument that this was their standard morning routine AND no command had been issued.

My feeling here is that it only counts as a trick if it falls outside the cat's normal routine AND the cat responds to an actual command. At least I issued an actual command.

Tonight the spousal unit launched Operation Enid Bojangles. He pulled out our little container of kitty treats and tried to get Enid to stand up on her hind legs to eat one while he commanded her to dance.

The cat really, really, really wanted the treat while he was waving it under her nose but when the spousal unit lifted it up above her head, Enid wasn't bright enough to look up to find it. Enid is not the sharpest pencil in the kitty box.

Finally the spousal unit figured out that he had to lift the treat very, very slowly so Enid could follow it with her eyes. She did stand up and dance a bit to get it. However, when he tried the trick a second time and moved the treat up above Enid's head too fast, again she was unable to locate it.

Clearly, Operation Enid Bojangles is going to take a while. I believe it could happen, but then again you're looking at someone who believed in Santa Claus until she was 9.

There will be further bulletins as events progress.


Mileage on the Marnometer: 112.59 miles. Ten percent there rubber duck. Oh man. This is going to be hard
Goal for 2004: 1,000 miles - 1609 kilometers

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