Walter likes to think of himself as amazingly athletic, incredibly fascinating, and wildly handsome, with an exceptional rack of ears. Remember Walter? He is the Corgi that came here to rescue us from the peace and solitude of the prairie 6 months ago. Walter has some insights to share today about being a semi-reluctant predator.
For sake of conversation, Walter categorizes the world in two groups. The wide-apart eyes are prey animals. Their purpose is to live a happy life and be eaten. Then there are close-together eyes, it’s their purpose to live a happy life and eat others. They are predators and a bit adversarial by accident of birth.
Walter likes to think of himself as an only dog, so he considers the other dogs as mere obstacles that sometimes get between him and me. Tomboy, the Briard, takes exception to his lack of respect for her masterful leadership of the entire farm. So Walter is careful to stay below her radar, easy to do being short.
When Walter set about finding friends here at Infinity Farm, he decided to ignore all animals here that are significantly taller than him, so no horse friends or llama friends. He could have a great friend in Edgar Rice Burro since they share so many opinions about politics and food, but Walter is just unwilling to look up, it makes his neck stiff. He did consider the goats briefly, being a middle size and all, but upon reflection, it didn’t seem prudent since goat’s eyes made him uncomfortable.
That only leaves cats and ducks as potential friends of a certain non-altitude. Walter likes the ducks; they march along in formation leaving little treats in their wake, and quack kind of like he does. He can herd them up and down the fence line like a drill sergeant because ducks are prey animals and don’t ask any questions. It’s easy being friends with wide-apart eyed animals. I notice predator/prey friendships like this are usually one-sided.
Walter likes to think of himself as a free-thinker, not bound by prejudice. But he thinks cats are alien walk-ins, or devil’s spawn, or worse, predators that have no respect. Walter just doesn’t trust their evil intentions. They sit on high things where they are hard to see and then pounce! They lay in doorways, blocking traffic for hours. And sometimes when they look asleep, they’ll hook a claw in your ear, just for the fun of it, for crying out loud! Cat-astrophic!
Walter likes to think of himself as a vegetarian because he is fond of all kinds of non-meat food. But it isn’t true. His has close-together eyes; it’s only his ears that are wide-apart. Walter is raw fed and he shows a firm commitment to meat by quacking and whining for an hour before dinner, just on the off-chance I might forget how to tell time. He dreams one day it will rain bacon.
He may like to think of himself as a vegetarian, but the hard truth is that Walter is a predator, with blood on his paws. And the cats still disrespect him. It’s embarrassing.
I notice that the other dogs don’t have this problem. Tomboy is an assertive barn manager that lets that orange cat sleep right on top of her. She has the self-confidence of knowing her place and doing her job well.
We humans like to think we have evolved past all this, but we are still predators. Some of us are honest and happy with our job description, like Tomboy. Most of us are like Walter. We like to think of ourselves as not really predators at all, because it’s confusing in the middle range where we flop around between living a dream of world domination, and the humiliating reality of being used as catnip.
It is appealing to want to partner with a horse, whose wide-apart eyes see us differently. But as long as we flounder in our predator confusion, the friendship will be one-sided as a duck’s.
“The biggest enemy to the partnership of dressage is impatience and the human nature to dominate other creatures.” Walter Zettl
Anna Blake, Infinity Farm.