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The Therapy Sessions
Friday, April 30, 2004

My paper tiger

A few months, I took up running in the morning, while it's still dark. My faithful companion is my dog, Titus, who marches along in front of me, on the lookout for bunnies, cats and other dogs.

Last week, a curious thing happened. Titus saw a cat pacing around one of the driveways ahead. Titus growled a little, but his growl was, as usual, hesitant and half-hearted. But usually, this was enough for a cat. The cat will run away, and Titus will give chase, at least to the end of the leash.

But Tinkerbell is a ballsy cat: she stood her ground. Titus was noticeably flustered as he padded into range, and the cat's stare was fixed on him. He did not chase. If he had even given a hint of a chase, the cat would have scurried off. Titus just ran in front of Tinkerbell. After we had passed in safety, Titus looked up at me with a look that said "Jeez, master, that was a close one!"

But now Tinkerbell has his number, and she knows it. Each time we run by, she makes a point. She walks to the end of her driveway and stares Titus down.

He is now frightened of a cat that is a fourth of his size.

It is the shame that he must now endure this because he lost his nerve on his first showdown. The Feline Street knows that my badass Border Collie is a wimp.

Animals interpret this situation as shame. I can see it in Titus's eyes.

But if he was a European dog, he would be quite proud of his refusal to stand up for himself.

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