Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Amazing Puppy

Corniest blog title I could ever ever ever imagine, but I just wrote it. HELP! I'm in love with a super intelligent puppy! Although actually the first story I have to tell just goes to show that all geniuses do crazy things.
Tonight was the third time we sat by the funeral pyre. She snuggled my knees, letting me know that I, mattered to her more than the object of beauty she had just lost. The first time it was a bloody sanitory towel, I found her caressing under a tree. As I approached she gave a deep snarling growl, which I couldn't accept and took 2 full minutes before she displayed her submission with a roll over with her belly exposed. That one had to be burnt with her grabbed by the collar.
The second time it was a nappy. She was more willing to let that one go and she was enjoying learning about the fire.
All afternoon I had smelt something near the house that stunk of death. I immediately suspected Maxine, but I couldn't spot her anywhere near by. It lingered, flowing in on the breeze occasionally, until boom Maxine arrives on the porch, with the smell. She had found it, goodness knows how long ago, but at least 6 hours and since then had being plucking up the courage to show me this item of glory. A flattened hedgehog carcass, very very rotten. Time for fire time again Maxine! Peter and I built a big wood fire this time. She let Peter hold the hedgehog, never jumping for it, but never letting her gaze slip either as she prepared for the inevitable. The fire was stoked. She and I retreated to a small mound near the fire that was comfortable to sit on. Peter placed the item on the fire, while I comforted her as she said goodbye to her super awesome life changing discovery.
The pack order amongst dogs is super interesting (incidently I just tried to do some research on this on Wikipedia and it really freaked me out. Amongst the list of "services" humans get from dogs included dog meat. WTF China?). A dog has a very clear view of who is above them and who is below, and in human society they must always remain at the bottom. Ideally below everyone else, but the lowest in their particular family is also fine. This position has to be continually reinforced during their teenagerdom as they are trying to rise up the ranks. Like our few fire incidents. But the point is as time goes on, she becomes better and better with this agreement and I get to see new insights into this crazy relationship Homo sapiens and Canis lupis familiaris.
After the bonfire was over and we came back over the porch I managed to get her to drink something and clean her of the death smell (like dealing with someones hangover man!) <- oh hilarious I just got disturbed by her for something else she just brought to the door. Turns out it was bread she was chewing on. Good girl! ANYWAY. After she came back to the porch she wanted some attention, so she sat on the door mat and gazed at me for a while and then, just when she was most intensely focused she put her paw on my knee.
Wolves do not use their legs in much social behaviour. A lot is done with mouth, licking, biting, pulling things. However primates most definitely do. We use our hands in one the most incredible diversity of patterns that has ever flowered in evolution. The dog feels this every day when she is petted and scratched in that bang on position, or when we lay our hands on them to show affection and assert dominance. The dog is very aware of the power of hands. So piecing together how we use our hands to love them, rather than our mouths, it might be more beneficial to stay in this relationship by learning a mimicry behaviour which has advantageous consequences. Loving you back with an arm.
Evolution has a whole myriad of stories to tell and insights to grasp. Its a desperately simple principal that when applied, has the most fantastic and magical consequences imaginable, such as the colour patterns in the fish of the reef.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A dog, a boat and 100 dives

Its been a BUSY weekend with two big achievements. The first is that I finally got the sailing boat into the water! The hull of this old 505 was sat rotting under a tree, where it had sat for over a decade when I got to Mwamba. I couldn't bear to see it like this, so started the task of fixing it. Only I've never fixed sail boats before. NO MATTER. Lots of online reading, plenty of helping hands and expertise and 18 months later we got the boat out! If you're reading this and you helped at some point, a big thank you! We tied it to the mooring using the mast yesterday, only the mast itself wasn't securely securely fastened to the boat, so the boat semi-sank leaving the mast on the sea bed next to the mooring today (but still firmly attached with my amazing knot-tying abilities). Teething problems. No problem really. More sailing adventures to follow!!
That was yesterday (except for the sinking bit). Today I was assisting with a training dive with AquaVentures, the local dive school. I am training for my DiveMaster, the PADI dive qualification which is recognised by most people as being the "get-in-the-club" qualification for being a professional diver. The bulk of the course is directed towards supervising diving for others and especially students. I was supervising a Russian couple on their 2nd ever dive, on what happened to be my 100th. The lady was a nightmare to keep track of, because she was so excited by everything. The way she looked at the fish and was exploring the reef, reminded me of my early dives. I wanted to see everything and didn't ever want to get out the water again. It was great fun to remember that feeling on a milestone dive.
So after all that excitement, I've been kicking back with my new best friend, Maxine. She's 5 months old, with black and ginger hair and she loves to french kiss (if only I would let her). She's a Doberman with other random bits in there (labrador?) and is completely adorable. I've never owned a dog before, but I am now hooked. Getting home to an excited puppy then going for a long run and swim on the beach with her is the best part of my day.