When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

05 September 2006

I've heard of peer training, but this is ridiculous

In an utterly surreal meeting of management theory with interspecies communications, I am somewhat stunned to report that Mister Gato appears to have successfully taught the Chows how to catch mice.

All right now, stay with me here.

(1) Good technical managers have long believed in sharpening the skills of their employees via "cross-functional" peer training, in which team members train their colleagues in their particular specialties.

(2) We have observed some instances of cross-species communication that could arguably be considered peer information exchange between the two Chow Chows who live with us and the irascible tomcat who is the Senior Manager of our household.

(a) The Chows have attempted to learn to purr; when Mister Gato brushes up against them, buzzing, they make low, encouraging growls in an attempt to replicate the noise he's making.

(b) Mister Gato apparently has earned his union card as a canine-surrogate door guard. Before the cat moved in with us, a Chow Chow was always guarding our front door through the simple expedient of lying against it in a proprietary fashion, and they took shifts. Now Mister Gato can be seen taking his share of the door-guarding duty.

(3) Most amazingly, however, the Chow Chows seem to *finally* have learned, through a process of repeated observation, how to catch and kill mice. They have always been very interested in Gato's hunting activities, and recently they have become more active participants; the other day I saw Chow Fun playing a game with Gato that looked a lot like hunting behavior.

Well, tonight, Mister Gato caught a tender young mouse in the kitchen (he is getting one every other week; I guess it's that time of year) and brought it out to our little foyer to formally torture and eat it. The Chows immediately followed. He instructively batted it around for a few minutes...

...and then Carrie and I were absolutely shocked to discover that Chow Bella was playing with the mouse as if she were a cat.

She even picked the little half-dead carcass up in her mouth (!) for a few seconds, though, sadly, not long enough for us to take the documentary photograph that would convince all of you that we neither prevaricate nor hallucinate.

We thought that the cat would be disturbed by the dogs actually attempting to eat his kill, but instead, he sat by and groomed himself in an attitude that seemed very like that of a proud parent.

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