Sunday, January 5, 2014

Everyday Goblins

This morning I got that, "I'm being watched" feeling while leaned over the sink brushing my teeth. Having seen too many horror movies, I halfway expected to look up into the mirror and see a demon/serial killer/alien/predator/poltergeist hunched over my shoulder, but it was just Bast standing in the doorway, watching me with ears folded back and amber-orange eyes the size of full moons. I pushed my toothbrush to the side and asked, "What, Bast?" Despite tooth-brushing be a common occurrence around here, the sight of me frothing at the lips and my distorted voice was enough to trigger Bast's terrified flight response - he peeled out with such force that his claws dug furrows into the carpet in his haste to escape the minty fresh demon attacking my mouth.

One of the more unfortunate misconceptions about Bast's kind is that they make great guard dogs. Some people think that mixing dogs with wolves will give you this super-territorial animal that aggressively defends its turf from invaders - I think if you asked these people where they got this information, you'd find that the most interaction they've had with an animal with actual wolf content is when their Grandma read them Little Red Riding Hood as a child.

In reality, dogs like Bast have a tendency to be timid and shy. The joke is that they make great watch dogs - they will hide and watch as someone strange invades their home, and watch them leave with all of their owner's belongings. This is certainly true of Bast, who I think would rather chuck himself out the window than help me combat any would-be attacker.

To help with this innate shyness, good breeders socialize their puppies extensively. They introduce them to a variety of situations to help familiarize them with the sometimes overwhelming human world and prepare them for venturing off to their new homes. Although Bast was socialized very well by the rescue who scooped him up, he still occasionally wigs out when he encounters something new (or, as in the case this morning, with something not-new that is nevertheless not-okay no matter how routine it is).

I never know what's going to spook him. Sometimes, I can anticipate something being scary, prepare for it, and then get no reaction from him whatsoever. Other times, normal activities accidentally terrify him, and I have to go find him in his hiding spot to soothe and coax him out. He can also react either way to the same thing in different situations. For example, when we go walking in a nearby park, he usually likes to stop and watch people playing tennis. We can loaf for half an hour at time while he watches the tennis balls sail back and forth. Another time, we were walking close by and he saw a girl just carrying a tennis racket. Distracted by a conversation, I was totally unprepared for the intensity of his panic; his terrified bolt somehow bruised the back of my thigh from him crashing into me while also yanking my arm almost out of socket from the front.

Tennis racket slicing through the air? Ooo neat. Tennis racket being idly carried? FLY, YOU FOOLS.

Once, he freaked out while I was changing my bed linens. I wasn't shaking the sheets toward him, but as soon as the fitted sheet came off, his ears laid back and he bolted from the bedroom. He then stood in the doorway as far back as he could while still keeping one eye around the corner and watched me until the scary linens fit securely on the bed where they belong. Once everything looked normal again, he bounded back into the room, popped up on the bed, and went straight to sleep on the no-longer-horrifying sheets.

I don't know what goes on in that narrow little head of his. All I can do is keep a firm grip on the leash and hold tight.


  1. I love reading about Bast. I miss my boy every day, and nothing will ever heal my spirit, but reading about your quirky fellow never fails to bring a smile to my face, even on the harder days. He reminds me of Sherlock in some ways; Sherlock wasn't fretful, but he had many of the same goofy traits. While I read about Bast, it feels like I'm reading about my boy, and it's almost like my boy is alive again, even if it's for such a short time. Your blog brightens my life.

    I'm so glad I had a role to play in connecting you with a support system that can help you work through Bast's insecurities. Enjoy the coming year with him, and never take even one moment for granted... - Chris

    1. Chris, I just now saw your comment. I'm so glad that Bast's weirdness can bring you a smile, even if just for a bit. I still think about you and Sherlock and hope that you're doing better. I'm so glad to have the group for support, and that you took the time to not only help find Bast when he everyone thought he was lost forever, but also to bring me into the community to help both of us. We've learned a lot together, and he's brought immeasurable joy to my life... even if he is just a little bit mental.

      It's good to hear from you, and I hope you'll enjoy many other posts.

  2. Your posts are hilarious! Thanks for writing about your adventures with Bast.

    ~DZ Dogs