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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • JOSHUA'S COLUMN — Regulated by speedometers and cats

  • For a few years there when I was in college, I got a lot of speeding tickets.
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  • For a few years there when I was in college, I got a lot of speeding tickets. Of all the speeding tickets I’ve gotten in my life, probably 90 percent were during just those few years there in college. Another odd thing about those days — everyone else on the road drove slower than usual. I was constantly passing slowpokes on the highway. Then one day I had the first glimmers of a hint of an epiphany. I decided to do a test. I said to a friend, “Now I want you to drive down the road at exactly the speed limit. If the sign says ‘65 mph’, you drive at exactly 65 mph. I’ll follow in my car at the same speed you’re going. Got it?” Once we got onto the highway, I followed my friend driving at exactly what his speedometer told him was the speed limit. Sure enough, my car’s speedometer said I was going about seven miles per hour below the speed limit posted on the signs beside the highway. After that I was always careful to drive with the speedometer needle indicating seven miles an hour below what I thought I should be driving at. If the speed limit said 65, I’d set the cruise control for 58 miles per hour. If it was 55 mph, I’d drive so that the speedometer told me I was driving at 48 mph. I never got any more speeding tickets — and everyone else on the road was suddenly driving the correct speed, too! I’m sure there’s a valuable moral there somewhere, but it’s Friday morning and I haven’t had any coffee yet, so I’ll let you figure one out for yourself. . . . . . When we got Raffi the Dog of Destiny it was fascinating to watch her learn how to be a dog. Raffi was taken from her litter when she was about six weeks old, so she only had a limited time with them to learn about how dogs are supposed to behave. When we brought her to the home she spent a lot of time studying the behavior of her older brother, Rufus the Wonder Dog. When I’d come home from work, Rufus would jump up on me and scream like a little girl until I petted him and told him he was a good dog. Raffi would stand back and observe, then wander away to lie down and mull over what she had just seen. After a couple weeks of this, when I’d come home Raffi would also jump up on me until I petted her, but it was purely a learned behavior. She wasn’t sure why she was supposed to do it, but she wanted to be a good dog, so she’d jump up on the primate since that’s what dogs did. Once Raffi had that down to a system she decided she could be genuinely happy to see me, too. The greetings stopped being a by-the-numbers thing, and became an honest “Hey, I’m glad you’re home!” thing. Well, for the last few months we’ve had a couple cats living in our house, interacting with the dogs on a daily basis. It’s been fascinating to watch Raffi learn how to be a cat. Ever observant, Raffi watches the cats live their daily cat lives, and has started adopting some of their feline habits. The first time I walked into the dining room and saw Raffi sleeping on the seat cushion on my dining room chair — like the cats do — I said, “Hey!” I’ve also caught her playing with them in noticeably cat-like fashion, pouncing and chasing the way they do instead of like she does when she plays with Rufus. The first time I hear her “meow” though, we’re sending her to a therapist.

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