How To Mark Your Territory
After spending 5 years of my life outside with my dogs at least 6 times a day in heat, cold, rain, snow, hail, and so on, I feel as if I have been made privy to many valuable and instinctual rituals. My dogs just seem to know how to be dogs without ever really being taught. We got Mylo when he was 7 weeks, and Toady was 2.5 months when adopted, but who knows how long he was without other dog companions. So, today I feel enlightened enough to record one of my favorite findings: marking the yard.
My dogs are both male. They both cock their legs when they pee, like hairy ballerina fountains. They are both territorial, but in different ways. Toady is like a wolf, peeing around the perimeter of the yard. He pees on the fence. I assume this is because he is telling the dogs on either side where his territory begins. Mylo, however, makes no sense to me. He will be frolicking in the yard like a crazed fairy, sending dandelion puffs floating and butterflies wafting, until he hears the unmistakeable “sssssssss” of Toady peeing on something. He freezes, body shaking with anticipation, and tears off to wherever Toady may be. He makes sure that Toady is peeing (even if it means he gets peed on) and waits, moving from paw to paw with impatience. As soon as Toady’s suspended leg hits the ground, Mylo leaps to the pee spot and proceeds to pee on it. Even though he is getting grass chunks flung at his head. Even though he already peed. Even though he may have been peed on. He saves that little tiny bit just so that he can “cover” Toady’s pee. I assume that this is some act of dominance, even though Toady is 50 pounds heavier than Mylo. Sometimes I imagine that Toady refuses to let Mylo have the last “mark”, so then they literally have a pissing contest.
Wouldn’t life be so much easier if that was how humans marked their territory? If all we had to do to keep salesman and solicitors and unwanted visitors out of our yards was to make an invisible pee boundary. No more polite but awkward conversations about how you just aren’t interested in becoming religious, or about how you really don’t want to change your gas provider. No more newspaper salesman making you feel guilty for not subscribing after they gave you a 6 month free subscription that you never read. Just a pee line that would say, “you go over this line and I will make loud noises at you through the window until you go away”. A simple pee line that would tell unwanted visitors to go away. I don’t think I will ever try it, I mean, I would have to drink a few gallons of water and I loathe the taste, and what would the neighbors think? Still, it’s a nice thought.