Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Will of Willow

There are people who say that creativity is an exclusively human trait. These people are wrong.

Take my dog, Willow. In the morning, when she sees that I'm starting to wake up, she wants me to get out of bed as quickly as possible so she can go for her morning walk and pee. She knows the direct approach - barking at me - won't work, so she has to get creative.

I've woken to my toes being softly nibbled on. To her jumping up and down on the bed. This morning, she gave me one lick on the back of the neck, then sat on my pillow, staring at the back of my head breathing heavily until the sheer power of her will woke me.

Incidentally, sometimes when I'm at the computer she feels attention-deprived and goes through similar strategies to make it all about her. Just as I was writing this, she threw a bone at my leg.

The thing is, she has to do something novel to get my attention, and she knows it. If it's boring old barking or nudging me, I'd rather just sleep in. But if it's something I've never seen before, of course I've gotta be all "awww the smart puppy's doing something funny! I can't sleep through that!"

And doing something novel to accomplish a useful goal, that's the definition of creativity. Maybe there are some animals that rigidly stick to what they're programmed to do, but many don't; part of what we love about pets is that they constantly surprise us. Willow may be the very best example, but a trip to Youtube will net you thousands more. Creativity is nowhere near being exclusive to humans.


Hey Lady! said...

I agree with you 100% (wow, who thought that would ever happen...). My dogs are extremely creative, even after 8 years together I never know what they're going to do.

Thanks for the post about your dog, I always enjoy hearing about the great relationships people have with their pets.

Phronk said...

WTF we agree? Weird!

Is that one of your dogs in your profile picture?

shine said...

My dog was a freaking genius. And super creative, if not always terribly bright.

Hey Lady! said...

Yes! That's Bug. When I started my blog it initially was only going to be about my dogs, then I got distracted by my own life and started writing about other crap. Some would say it was not a change for the better...