There is a reason “friends” inundate your email and social media pages with what they think are cute animal pictures. In truth, animals are almost as much fun to watch as humans. Some might say animals are preferable to humans.
Anthropomorphism, attributing human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object, is one of the many reasons for people’s fascination with animals. It is the similarity in behavior that is often startling and amusing.
Even though dogs and cats feature prominently in social media posts, our greatest fascination is with monkeys and apes. According to Britannica.com, they are both considered primates, and whether we like it or not, are part of the human family tree.
Apes include humans, gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, gibbons, and bonobos. Monkeys have tails. Fortunately for us, apes do not. Tails would make it uncomfortable to sit or wear clothes.
Imagine walking through the mall, and instead of seeing spare tires drooping over people’s jeans, tails would poke out the backs of skirts and pants and wave at folks behind them. Such a sight would be almost as traumatizing as plumber’s cleavage.
In spite of our fascination with and genetic connection to apes, other animals also exhibit human-like behavior. The strange thing is we tolerate their behavior as normal. However, if a human behaved like an animal, it would not be amusing.
Our surfing son has two dogs. They are more than pets. They are part of his family, with a few human childlike traits.
For example, we have all seen videos of children imitating parents. The action could be dancing or even exercise. More often than not, the children are both cute and amusing as they try to copy mom or dad’s moves. Our son’s dogs tend to imitate their human’s actions as well.
When our son did yoga stretches to help with his back pain, one of the dogs did an admirable job of imitating his stretches. (Photograph available on Saturday, December 7 on www.facebook.com/Liz.Cowan.Author.)
In a past column, this writer introduced the donkey family that resides in our pasture. Originally, we had Jack and Jenny. Later on, Jenny had a colt we named Fluffy because he had fluffy bangs. Jack was and is the loud-mouthed one in that family. His enthusiastic braying penetrates walls. He is our equine watch critter which is a weird sort of comfort at night.
Recently, we added two more males, Fred and Barney. Fred is a gelding (also known as a John donkey), and Barney is an intact Jack.
Our original Jack and Barney are not besties. Since Barney casts longing eyes at Jenny, Jack attacked him, taking bites out of his hide. As you might guess, the boys do not hang out together. We had to put Barney and Fred into a separate pasture from Jack, Jenny, and Fluffy.
Barney is not a happy camper. He spends a lot of time pacing back and forth by the gate in the corner where the two pastures meet, while Jack runs along their adjoining fence, taunting Barney. It is the donkey version of “Ha, ha. I’ve got the girl, and you don’t.”
What Jack did not take into consideration is Fluffy. When we separated the calves from the mama cows, we could not separate the colt from Jenny’s side. Consequently, it took Jenny a bit longer to wean Fluffy. But now, he is a growing boy with increasing interest in the opposite sex.
Jenny discourages Fluffy from getting too friendly, applying a swift kick in his face, but the kid does not give up. Watching their antics, we cannot help but wonder, does Fluffy have an Oedipal Complex?
Since there is no donkey psychiatrist available, the show goes on.
In the meantime, Jack and Barney face off several times a day. They taunt one another, and in case you have never heard donkeys, their braying does not sound like Hee Haw.
They open their jaws and let loose with a long and loud noise, this lady thinks sounds like the donkey version of verbal orgasms. While Jack taunts, Barney is expressing his frustration.