Everything is new and shiny and intriguing, but at the same time, it is terrifying and unknown. Things he knows in one place are deeply disturbing elsewhere.
In the living room, the TV sits, on or off, completely uninteresting. The only interaction he has with it is knowledge that its turn-off-noise generally means someone is about to do something other than be boring on a couch. Though it isn’t guaranteed, and it isn’t the only time that someone does something other than sit on the couch.
A different but similar television sits, forlorn, kicked to the curb, and it is baffling and devious and terrifying. What is it? What does it want? Maybe we should just circle very wide around it and avoid dealing with the mystery that it represents.
On a morning walk, I stray from the path to walk out to the Gazebo on the point – a gift to Gwynn, the opportunity to sniff to his heart’s delight in a less-often-visited place. A dangerous and mysterious and terrifying electrical box sitting innocuously on a section of the Gazebo fence-wall. Twenty minutes, many scuttles, and quite a few loud barks later, having circled the outside and inside of the gazebo numerous times, he is willing, tentatively, to go up and sniff this diabolically innocent-seeming mystery box.
A car bumper somehow finds its way down the creek and up onto the path along the creek valley. This deeply alien creature, so unlike its attached-to-all-cars compatriots, simply boggles the mind. It is weird and unnatural and ought to be barked at as furiously as possible.
My first dog-trainer brought one of her dogs to our class one day. He was completely fine walking on the asphalt outside, the grass, the sidewalk, the tile floor. He looked into the depths of the shiny wooden gymnasium floors, and the floors glared back, an evil glint in their scuffed surfaces. This well-trained, well-adjusted pooch transformed into the cartoon cat clutching the ceiling, s though the floor was going to let go of him if he didn’t stick close to it, as his owner led him calmly and patiently step-by-crouching-step out onto the floor. He relaxed and resumed his normal standing elevation, only to remember the terror when asked simply to continue this walking-on-doom-floors routine on the other side of the room as well.
Lets not forget garden gnomes – diabolical potentially-alive creatures lurking amongst the shrubberies and blades of grass. They’re tiny, they’ve got eyes, and they are among us.
I play the “What’s this?!” game with him. My neighbours might think I’m a bit strange, spending 5 minutes circling the big paper bag of leaves they left out, enthusiastically tapping it and exclaiming “What’s this?!” in a tone of voice I would otherwise reserve for free strawberry rhubarb pie or a 20 dollar bill on the ground. It works, though.
At least he balances his paranoia out with a good dose of child-like wonder. Every snowfall is a magical, glorious experience, to be thoroughly snuffled through, and every yogurt-covered spoon I let him ‘clean off’ is lip-smackingly delicious and the best thing ever.
What every-day objects have your pets found deeply disturbing? What do you do to get them to relax?