Taming the Beast: dealing with apes when they first wake up
If there’s one thing I learned from my time among apes, it was that some of them can be downright snarly in the morning. Even if they are the sort to be generally more chipper in the morning than the evening, they won’t bound out of bed, ready for action. They need time to fully “wake up”, they say.
I didn’t always understand this. For me, a single sound reaching my furry ears would have me up on my four paws, ready for anything. Not that I’m the aggressive sort — not at all. But I was protective of my pack, and often walked ahead as scout-wolf on our evening constitutionals, in case of danger. Or treats from a stranger, I’ll admit.
Time among apes changed me, and I found as I got on in years I’d prefer to sleep more than do other things. Still, in the morning I was awake right away — usually because my bladder called me to be so.
When I was a young thing, I’d wait for the need to go out to become pressing and urgent before dragging my humans out of bed. This, fellow canines, is a mistake. It will make your human grumpy and your walk short.
Unless you wake up with your bladder already full, you should have some time before it becomes a matter of urgent attention. Wake your human as soon as possible. They will want to have this noxious black liquid to “become alive”, as my Mistress always said. “I’m not alive in the morning without my coffee, Blue,” she’d say, patting my head and scratching behind my ears. To be perfectly honest she wasn’t alive in the morning with coffee; her best hours were always after sunset. But I digress.
Pack Leader, Mistress’s mother, was awake after coffee. She was always more of a morning ape than Mistress was, and as such it was she who took me on my morning constitutional. Afterwards, she would need to get Mistress up as well, and that always put her in a bad mood, for teenage apes are sullen and cranky and…well. I don’t wish to speak ill of Mistress, for I loved her dearly, but she was sometimes a terrible pup to Pack Leader, and I feel I must be honest here.
I spent my days with Pack Leader, in a dark cave full of cool air. They called this cave the “office” and spoke very gratefully of its “air conditioning”. I’m not sure what that means, but it was bliss to me in the hot climate of Hawaii, and we couldn’t always go to Hosmer’s Grove, a place upcountry that was so much like Canada I was sure we’d actually gone back home and found the True Woods.
As I spent my days with Pack Leader while Mistress was away with other teenage apes to learn, presumably, and sometimes congregate in a big building with lots of light and noise and laughter for the sake of theatre, which I’ll talk about another time, I liked to keep Pack Leader happy in the morning, so she’d be happier throughout the day.
Regardless how lovely our apes can be to us, when they’re upset, we can feel it. It doesn’t matter that they’re not upset at us; an ape in a bad mood can affect our mood completely. This is why so many dogs strive so hard to be good dogs — we want our apes happy, because a happy ape means a better atmosphere.
So I would get up a little earlier than was my wont, and wake Pack Leader as soon as she would consider it decent. This is not a skill you can learn overnight; it takes a lot of time and practice and observation of your apes. Work at it, and it will serve you in good stead. Apes may be crazy, but they’re worth it.
Pack Leader would shuffle around the house in her artificial fur (I’ll never understand why humans insist on covering their bodies with extra material, especially in hot, humid Hawaii) and make her coffee — it stinks, but you can live with the smell for the sake of a happy human. If you’re lucky, your human will like tea, instead, and that doesn’t smell nearly so bad.
After drinking her coffee, Pack Leader would be ready to go on our walk. I would wait patiently by the door, sitting properly as I was taught, and then she would put on different artificial fur (another strange habit — they designate some fur for sleeping in, some for going out in, some for sitting around the house, some for swimming…it’s so complicated) and her paw-coverings (human feet are very sensitive, susceptible to the smallest rock in their path, and they must cover their paw-pads with artificial materials before venturing outside — not to mention, Hawaii’s beaches are full of a nasty thorn called the kiawe, which can put even the hardiest wolf-dog out of commission until her ape can take care of her paw) and she would open the door for our walk. I’d thump my tail on the floor and bound outside, stopping at the end of the walk with a look back at her.
She’d smile, and the ritual would be complete. The human beast was tamed.
(I never did figure out how to tame Mistress in the morning, but some apes are not so easily bested. It is suggested to the young wolf-dog to focus on taming the adult apes of the household. During an ape’s adolescence, all hope is lost.)
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