noun, plural pro·cliv·i·ties.
natural or habitual inclination or tendency; propensity; predisposition: a proclivity to meticulousness
Perhaps I knew this already. Perhaps somewhere this has crossed my mind. Perhaps in the deep recesses of my psyche I’ve known all along that I am an odd dog. This came to my full awareness the other day when I overheard someone say, “Rubin has some interesting proclivities.”
I’ll admit, I had to look up the word to make certain I understood what was being said (I had a vague idea given the context, but to be absolutely sure, I pulled out my OED and my magnifying glass and read the above definition).
At first, I was slightly offended. I’m not sure why as nothing in the definition is inherently offensive, but for some reason the idea that I had a “habitual inclination” toward anything felt insulting. Then I started paying attention to my actions during the day. That’s when I got worried.
To explain my proclivities requires a bit of background into my daily routine and schedule. First, you need to know that not ever day is the same. For some dogs I know the routine never really changes. They get up, they eat breakfast, they go on a walk (at least I hope they do) and then, when their owners go to work, they wait at home. Once their owners get home, they get another walk (or so I hope), dinner, and cuddles from the family. They may get to go to a park or visit friends and on weekends, they may get an even bigger outing or, dog forbid, have to do an errand like go to the vet or groomer.
Their lives are pretty predictable and except for a few differences in their routine, they know what to expect. In some ways I envy them their predictable lives. My life is not like this. Sure, there are routines — I get up, I rest in the living room or under the desk until the humans are ready for their day. Yes, I get breakfast, but then what happens next is dictated by a very full and complicated schedule.
Momma Ann is usually out the door by 6:15 every morning (which yes, means we get up at the crack of dawn), but Gretchen has all sorts of things to do in the morning that do not require my assistance — paying bills, organize our business accounts, scheduling our work, studying for her acupressure certification and on and on and on. So I lounge, curled up on the couch or under the desk, available for conferencing, but pretty much resting up for my busy day.
Then, depending on the schedule, we head out the door to walk our dog clients. Some days there’s only 2 or 3 walks on the schedules. Other days we go out 5 or 6 times and on some occasions, the dogs come here and hang out for the day or half the day. There are trips to the vet and pet store, long drives to the Natural Pet Pantry to pick up more of my scrumptious food, or adventures to the park with 2 dogs in tow. There’s rain gear sometimes (ugh) or towels tucked into Gretchen’s bag for a trip to the lake. There are trips back to the house for a snack or a moment of relaxation before we head out again.
And this is just half of our day. Most days Gretchen works at the pool so she’s constantly coming home to move laundry (towels for work) from washer to dryer, packing a lunch/dinner for the afternoon, and getting organized for her trip to Wellsprings K9 where she’ll spend more time with dogs. (Don’t worry, some days I get to go too, but not always).
As you can see, our lives are unpredictable and busy. By the end of the day, I’m usually beat and glad for a chance to crash on the couch with my moms for some mindless movie or curl up between them as the read before bedtime. Because of the unpredictability of my life, I’ve grounded myself (at least that’s how I explain it) by developing some interesting quirks, though I’d describe my behavior with a more flattering word — like mannerisms — but I know my moms would not agree.
For instance, I like to keep myself in a geometrical position equidistant between the person who is home and the front door (I wrote a blog about this years ago — “And the Angles Sang”), but when it’s time to go, I race to the back of the house and sometimes up the stairs to the bedroom to hide whenever someone pulls out the leash. This may seem strange to you since I really like to go on walks especially with my dog friends, but I’m always a bit worried that in addition to the leash I may have to wear my harness (which I hate) or my raincoat (which I hate more than my harness) or Dog forbid, my booties (which are hated more than anything!). So I’m torn…go toward the front door and risk having to wear excess and uncomfortable garments or race upstairs and make everyone have to come after me.
One more example has to do with my food. I’ve been a finicky eater my entire life and though I’ve settled down of late, I have some peculiarities when it comes to eating. My moms set down my food — tasty raw chicken or turkey with yummy additions like probiotics or digestive enzymes or raw chicken necks or sometimes roasted chicken or on rare occasions, chopped up bacon (!) — and instead of racing over to eat it like a “normal” dog, I sniff the air, walk around my bowl, and then sit down and wait. What am I waiting for? Lots of things. I’m waiting for the humans to eat as well. I’m waiting to see if anything else yummy gets dropped into my bowl. I’m waiting to see if I’m really hungry. I’m waiting just because that’s what I do.
And once I start eating, I munch a little then walk away and do a big circle around my bowl only to come back to it and eat some more. My bowl tends to move, too, so if it gets too close to the furnace register, I pick up by the very edge and carry the bowl in front of me to a safer place. Sometimes I leave half my meal in the bowl. Other days I lick it clean. I know it’s not good for me, but I won’t eat out of glass or ceramic bowl — I prefer plastic — and I won’t eat if the humans are scurrying around the kitchen doing other things. I like quiet and calm and if at all possible, I like warm water in my food to take off the chill.
These then, are my proclivities. I have many many more, but I thought I’d share some of my dog friends’ tendencies as well. I mean, I don’t want everyone to think that I’m the only odd one around here!
Let’s start with Monty because he, my friends, has some really interesting proclivities. Again, I’ll just share one. His need to go crazy — leap and bark — at cars driving by on wet pavement or, dog forbid, through big puddles. He goes nuts when he hears that sound and for Monty to go nuts is saying a lot because he’s one of the calmest guys I know. It drives us all a bit crazy when he leaps up 3 feet in the air and gives out a huge woof, but what can we do? A habitual inclination and therefore we tolerate it.
I should note that Monty eats out of a plastic bowl too and perhaps this is where I learned it, but unlike me, he devours his meals lickty-split without need to move his bowl or circle around it.
Tyson’s proclivities are many as well, but the one I like the most is his need to back away every time Gretchen goes to put on his harness or his raincoat. He hates them too and gives this sad-eyed look every time Gretchen has them in her hands. He submits much more willingly than I do, but both of us would prefer to venture out in the world completely naked if at all possible.
And speaking of Tyson, good news — he has a new sister! And guess what? Just like his other sister (whose passing still pains us), her name is Rosie! This Rosie is much different than the last one and while I haven’t met her yet, Gretchen already told me of her interesting propensity to bite at her leash. I guess when she gets excited, she grabs the leash and wants to play tug. It’s not an aggressive behavior — apparently someone played with her like this — but it can be annoying since it’s hard to walk a dog who is pulling on her leash with her teeth. Gretchen’s learned to just drop the leash and step on it, paying no attention to Rosie’s antics and soon enough Rosie stops — but this is going to be an interesting proclivity to change.
Roux’s propensity is to bark whenever we stop for any reason. We tried to take her picture this week, but with the rain and her insistence that we just keep moving (which is why she barks), we failed. And I thought I had a loud and obnoxious bark!
Woobie’s proclivity involves our car. Whenever we come to get her, she wants to race right to the car and get in even though most of the time we just walk her around her neighborhood. And then, when we end the walk and come back around to her house, she wants to race to the car again and get in. Which I guess means she like us, which is good because we really like (love!) Woobie too.
And guess who else loves Woobie? Henri and Bella. They’re neighbors and whenever we walk by Woobie’s house, Henri and Bella want to stop and visit. They got to visit her a couple of times this week and they even stayed with us on Thursday and got to meet some of my other friends (like Roux). We’re learning about their proclivities and while I don’t know them all I know that Henri likes to stop and smell just about every blade of grass and leaf that he can…so much so that he just stops and refuses to go anywhere, pulling against his leash in a complete act of stubbornness.
Bella, on the other hand, is all about go go going. I’m not sure this is a proclivity as much as it is her terrier-ness, but regardless, put that gal on a leash and she’s raring to go. I’ve never seen her sleep, she must, but my feeling is that she’s go go going most of the day and night, which is one of the reasons I really like her. Not that I don’t like Henri, but Bella is more my kind of dog because she just wants to be in the world exploring every nook and cranny. I’m kind of like that too.
Carter and Kali’s proclivities, like mine, are many. They are way too many to name, but the one I like the best (and the one they share) is their enthusiasm for our arrival. Gretchen’s going to get a movie of it one day, but needless to say, the way the leap at the door in excitement is fun to watch (from afar because it would make me too nervous to be too close to it!).
Equally interesting though not as funny is their goodbye stance at the door when we leave. I feel bad about going — their forlorn looks at the window — yet every time we go, this is what we see — sad, long faces.
So yes, I might be weird, but at least I have good company. It’s important not to feel alone in one’s proclivities, and given the nature of our work and our very full schedules, I’ll have a chance to develop my proclivities as well as observe the habitual inclinations of others for quite some time.
Have a great weekend everyone and have fun identifying your own propensities and predispositions. I know I’m not alone!