Susanna J. Sturgis   Martha's Vineyard writer and editor
writer editor born-again horse girl

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Guys (continued)

July 23, 2005

See, I've learned a lot from Rhodry over the years, and from others of his tribe. Dogs are real aliens. They don't think the way humans do, or communicate in any of the same languages. Nevertheless, Rhodry and I can communicate, we can even argue, and (this is important) we can influence each other's behavior. Same goes for Allie; horses are aliens too. Up at the barn I get to watch aliens from different tribes work it out with each other: Rhodry and Allie, Allie and the cats, Rhodry and Dis Kitty. Rhodry and Dat Kitty communicate by not communicating. Each seems to have a forcefield up against intrusions by the other. Is Alpha Dog leery of Top Cat, and vice versa? Damned if I know, but it's fascinating to watch.

When Rhodry encounters another dog, he often starts to breathe heavily, accenting the exhale. The more heavily he breathes, the bigger the threat he perceives the other dog to be to his own alphaness. Walking into town the other morning, he encountered a Chesapeake-looking retriever on a narrow footbridge. Trotting nonchalantly toward us, the other dog stopped, stared, and turned tail and fled so singlemindedly that he almost ran into a (fortunately slow-moving) car. Rhodry didn't take one heavy breath -- not that I heard anyway.

Just now, strolling down Dunham, we heard the rev of a motorcycle, which moments later appeared out of the woods on Davis, heading for the T-intersection just ahead. In the clear bright air (the wicked humidity broke last night, in a spectacular extended display of heat lightning and rumbling thunder) of this quiet neighborhood, the motorcycle seemed very loud, though as motorcycles go it wasn't. The guy was driving; the girl rode on the back.

Big honking surprise, right? Guy's hands on the handlebars, feet on the accelerator; girl's hands on his hips, and enough noise to throttle any attempt at conversation, not only between them but between any people they pass.

More later . . .


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