Sense and Nonsense 1976

Small children and animals are often smarter than we adult human beings realize. They sometimes have a surprisingly good sense of humour as well. The other day our not- quite-3-year-old insisted that she should visit the doctor. Her last visit to him had involved an inspection of the spots she had had on her tummy; an allergic reaction to something or other. Remembering this, I asked her “Have you got spots, on your tummy again? ”

“No, she answered, pointing to her multi-coloured, T-shirt-encased protuberance, “I got stripes!”

Our 5-year-old grandson took me into his confidence recently. “You know, Grandma, sometimes I don’t hear very well.” I whispered back, so quietly I could not hear myself, “What did you say?” He answered, “I said, ‘sometimes I don’t hear so good, I have a hearing problem.’”

His parents had mentioned that they had worried that their son may have had a hearing problem. They had taken him to a clinic to have his sensory and mental reactions tested. They were told that both his hearing and his l.Q. were above average.

We once had a small dog with an intelligence that seemed to match her diminutive frame. She ignored the house rules concerning sanitation, would not come when she was called, and followed strangers anywhere. In fact she preferred strangers to the people who fed and petted her. Whenever we had company she would go into her cute act, leaping into their laps and squirming with joy when they petted her. I am sure she would have welcomed any intruder, happily leading him to the family jewels (if we had had any).

One evening she disappeared. We spent hours calling and searching for her. The next day we received a phone call from some people on the other side of town. Tuffy had been hurt and was recuperating at their place. When we picked her up, she was a pitiful sight. She had some bruises and one leg appeared to be sore. Her big brown eyes had an expression of enduring pain. We took her home and tenderly placed her in a soft bed with some warm milk and her favourite dog-food.

For a week she convalesced. She ate very little and drank only small amounts of the warm milk we offered her. Once in a while she would limp out of her basket, her tail dragging, to bravely greet us and let us know she was trying to exercise, despite great pain. On the weekend, some friends arrived for a visit. Tuffy instantly forgot her role as an invalid. She leaped out of her sick-bed and went into her usual welcoming routine. She leaped and wiggled and squirmed, all without the slightest trace of pain. Suddenly she realized that the jig was up. She went over to her food dish and wolfed down the contents. For a “dumb” dog, she had done a good job of fooling us for the past week.

Our cat has a weird sense of humour. Last spring my husband was picking some fresh clover for the rabbits. The cat was watching him, moving his head from side to side in a quizzical fashion. He tentatively reached over and took a bit of clover, chewing it slowly. Suddenly he spat it out, shook his head violently and sped away. I’m sure the clover couldn’t have tasted that bad – the rabbits loved it!

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