DEAR DR. FOX: My 10-year-old female cat, Bunny, brings me toys during the night. She collects them one at a time from the living room and carries them upstairs to the bedroom, crying while she does this. She then drops them in various places -- next to the bed, in the hall, in the guest room. I almost always wake up because she is loud, and I thank her for the gift and give her a small treat. Some nights she will do this up to four times. -- D.P., Fort Myers, Florida
DEAR DR. FOX: My Siamese cat, Zeus, likes to jump on my bent-over back, spread out and nuzzle my neck while I reach around to pet him.
Indoors, he telegraphs that he wants to jump up, so I assume the position; outside, he leaps out of the bushes as I bend over a plant and lands on me like Hobbes (of "Calvin and Hobbes"). It's great, though he's likely to topple me one of these days. -- N.S., Alexandria, Virginia
DEAR N.S.: My first Siamese cat, Igor, taught me this very same game, leaping on my back and ambushing me in the woods on walks together.
DEAR DR. FOX: You asked for input regarding how our animals display affection, so I thought I'd tell you about Jeanie, our border collie-Pyrenees mix, whom we adopted four years ago when she was a puppy.
Her behavior with human friends impresses me, probably since our previous dog, a husky, was not nearly so demonstrative to people outside the family -- he was courteous and accepted attention from one and all, but didn't seek it.
Jeanie has definite favorites among the friends who come to visit: She can hear their cars coming nearly a block away, and waits by the door, sometimes even letting herself out (she knows how to work the screen door handle), to greet them. She then "sings" to them with little whining sounds, and stands wagging her tail, waiting to be petted, which always happens.
I'd say there are about four or five nonresident people she treats in this manner. The family all receives this treatment when they come back from errands, too. Everyone else, if she knows them, gets a tail-wag and a grin; if they are strangers, she barks until I ask her to be quiet.
She recognizes the neighbors' cars when they come and go, and mostly she ignores them; but if new cars or delivery trucks appear, she barks. Considering her sheepdog heritage, we have joked that some of us are in her "flock," and others are potential "wolves" until reassured to the contrary.
Is this way of distinguishing between humans common to dogs of her type, or is it just Jeanie's personal style? -- J.S., St. Louis
DEAR J.S.: Yes, Jeanie as a protector-dog has the intelligence to recognize strangers and the unfamiliar from familiar; same with vehicles.
Our dog, Tanza, a village dog from Tanzania my wife and I brought home after working there, would quickly learn friends and neighbors from strangers, to whom she would give warning growls to alert us as much as to threaten them. Same with an unfamiliar car parked on our street. But she never bit anyone, and when given the OK with any visitor, she would sniff them, greet them and settle down.
So much as animals are showing us affection, they are also seeking our attention, and to not pay attention means we miss out on what love can really offer when the bond of affection between species is not realized.
STELLA & CHEWY'S PET FOOD RECALL
The Maryland Department of Agriculture issued a stop-sale order on Stella and Chewy's freeze-dried chicken patties dog food, which has tested positive for listeria monocytogenes. Be sure to visit the company's website for the latest details about the recall: stellaandchewys.com/stella-chewys-recall-notice.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
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