Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Emotions and Perceptions in the Animal World - part 3

     Whenever I come across an animal, i usually take some time to observe it. A lot of interesting things can be seen by sparing just about 5 minutes of your time. A week back I was sitting in the institute library [ which happens to be OUTSIDE the institute luckily] and reading a book. I had been going to the library from a week but had not seen any dogs there. One rainy afternoon, this little dog comes into the premises, barking and whining his throat off. Wondering what had happened, my friends and I tried to calm him down first, but the dog just sulked and kept up the barking on a high note. 
    Well, noticing that he was not in a mood to socialize, we just left him alone for sometime. As expected, he quietened down in 5 minutes and curled up on the floor of the parking lot only to be rudely awakened by the monsoon splattering carelessly over him. This got him back on his high vocalization track, which actually sounded like he was complaining and cursing the world around him. Soon we saw him slowly advancing towards the main door. Since I was the only one around at that time I allowed him to come up to the doormat.

      I noticed a couple of things about the dog's behaviour. The first thing was that he had a collar and a chain hanging on his neck. So, this means that he had run out of his owner's house. the second thing was that when he came into the gate, he was clearly nervous about something. He kept on barking and whining.... the way dogs do when they are either being chased or have stones  thrown at them. He would not come anyplace close to a human.Probably someone had chased him or hit him with something. The barks seemed almost similar to us complaining about something bad that someone did to us !!!

     The next couple of things I noticed is when he came up to the doormat. I was keeping a watch over him, and he knew that. So he came up slowly towards the doormat, sniffing here and there in the air, looking around while doing so... and as he approached the mat, he knew that both of us were in clear visibility range of the other.

     What he did next really took my mind off its feet.... he purposefully avoided looking in my direction, but keeping a lookout for my reaction from the corner of his eye, came upto the mat... and acted as if he was looking for something else and not interested in the mat at all !! he was sniffing in the air, looking around [ except in my direction]... he was clearly using the " deceiving looks" tactic on me !!! 

    Till the time I had my eyes on him he was using the tactics. Once I removed my eyes off him and went back to work, he quickly made himself cosy and at home on the warm and dry doormat. For a minute or two he did keep a look out for me from the corner of his eye, reducing direct eye contact, acting as if he was looking at something else. Later on he quietly went to sleep and did not even budge after I went close to him. 

    Poor fellow must have had a scare I feel. Now on the mat, the sense of security returned, he dosed off happily. 

     There are so many things that one can observe in animals that are very similar to humans.... its just that we should take some time to observe and understand our fellow earthlings. That is when we find that its not the speciation or language or even the intelligence that separates us humans from the rest of the animal kingdom... its the perception !