Monday, October 16, 2006
Nature v. Nurture
The thing about Jack Russell Terriers is that they were bred to hunt. They were bred to go after small animal, chasing them into their burrows with tenacity and bringing them back out dead or alive.
It's important to remember this if you decide to take your Jack Russell to your parents' house in the country (thinking he'll enjoy the chance to explore "the wild"), and they have a litter of two-month-old kittens that you're 4-year-old daughter is smitten with because the kitties are so damn cute.
It's important to remember this because even though you've had your Jack Russell Terrier for six years and have been diligent about training and obedience, when the Jack Russell sees the aforementioned fury little bundles of cuteness he can't help but be what he is. He will dart over and snatch the nearest kitty in his mouth and run off with it, shaking it violently trying to outrun you and break the kitty's neck.
And he'll do this right in front of your aforementioned 4-year-old daughter.
She held up well, my 4-year-old daughter. As she approached the twitching body of the kitty lying in the grass after I had the dog under control, she just said "Daddy, I almost cried a little bit."
I told her to leave the kitty alone. It was probably scared and needed to sleep a little to heal itself. As for the dog, he received a severe spanking and was sent to timeout in his kennel.
I took my daughter inside the house to get cleaned up and get her interested in something else. Half an hour later, I went back out into the yard to clean up the kitty carnage.
But the thing about kitties is that they can be very resilient. There was no kitty body to be found. In fact, the little guy had managed to crawl under a pile of wood and was licking his wounds. He was in surprisingly good spirits. I suspect he had a broken leg, but he was spry enough to leap up on a log and dart into a hole to get away from me.
Some people might be tempted to look for an allegory in this situation, to point out that, like the scorpion in the parable, it's difficult for people to be different from what they are. Some say that if it's in your nature you will sting the frog carrying you across the stream, dooming both the frog and yourself to death by drowning.
But I think that allegory is a bit shallow. People aren't Jack Russell Terriers after all (or scorpions for that matter). We all have the choice to sting or not sting, to break the cat's neck or leave it alone in its sickening cuteness.
And, given the thing about Jack Russell Terriers, we have the choice to not let them loose around baby kittens anymore.
tagged: nature, nurture, dog, cat, kitten, Jack Russell Terrier, choice