Saturday, 18 December 2010

That Stings

Ouch, that stings. There it goes again, gets me every time. Ouch, that really does sting. Again. That's painful. Again. Ouch, really, really painful. Again. Ouch.

Alright, alright I get the message. Better show I'm grateful. Act like I'm expecting what's coming. Else they'll do it again, they just love doing that. So it's dinner time, big deal, I know. After what they just did I really don't feel like eating. What a way to get a meal? Whose stupid idea was this? I'm sure it wasn't like this at the beginning. Was it? No, it can not have been.

How did I get into this mess? One day, there I was, minding my own business, just roaming round the streets, out and about like, doing nothing in particular. You know what it's like: things to smell, people to bark at, bits and pieces to lick. Best of all when you get your nose right inside something interesting, yes, the joy of a good sniff. You know, just in case it's a bit frisky. It's always nice when something is a bit frisky. And then what happens? This! How do you credit it? This! I'm flummoxed.

So I meet this bloke, called himself Ivan he did. Would I like to go with him? You know, plenty of grub, somewhere to sleep. So I goes. It seemed like a good idea, so I just goes. Of course nothing was said then about any experiment. Then it was all: good doggy, nice doggy, looks nice and healthy, good doggy, there's a few years left in you.

Then we end up here in this laboratory. A laboratory, why a laboratory? I was expecting to be in some humans house. You know, someone's pet like. All I was supposed to do was be nice and occasionally bark at a few strangers. Look round this place, it's a bit of a dump. You'd think they could afford better.

Sometimes, here in this laboratory, they have visitors coming round to have a look. Apparently this Ivan Pavlov bloke is famous. Supposedly he's famous for something else, not for torturing dogs. Won some prize, but I'm not impressed, who wants some rubbishy prize? You can't chew it, get your teeth in it. In any case you wouldn't become famous just for torturing dogs. Would you? No, surely not. So he has these people coming to look at me. Why me? I don't want them, I didn't invite them. Well, I have to bark a bit. It's one of the few enjoyments I have in life: a good bark. I feel so much better afterwards.

From what I can gather this is some kind of experiment. You see, they don't tell me what's going on. Oh no, I'm not important enough. They just do stuff to me without telling me why. So I have to listen to scraps of conversation to find out what they want.

You know they have stuck this thing in my mouth. It's so they can measure my saliva. Isn't that daft? Why would you want to do such a thing? Right pain it is, always getting in the way. I try to get it out sometimes, when they're not looking. But they only come and put it back.

Apparently I'm supposed to look all excited when grub is in the offing. They give some signal, like – that grub's up – and have to look all eager like. I just try and give them what they want. It's the easiest way. If I think they want me to look hungry and eager for a meal then I do it. They only make a fuss if you don't and then you have to wait. It's best to get it over and done with. What do they expect me to do, starve? Are they stupid or something? Who would want to be one of Pavlov's dogs?

So what does the great Mr Ivan Pavlov recommend to attract my attention? What's my signal for grub? What's my conditioned stimulus? With other dogs he used a metronome, with some he used a whistle, with yet others a tuning fork – but that was useless, just plain daft – and he also tried some wild visual things, all crazy stuff. Just stupid, who does he think we are? There are even rumours he sometimes used a bell, yes a bell, would you credit it, a bell. But I've never seen that, that's just silly that, all rumours. It's just my luck that with me it's electric shocks. Yes, I end up with electric shocks. I have all the luck.

But he does not do the zapping. Oh no, he – Mr Ivan Pavlov – is above all that, to smarmy for all that. He just sits there and watches, at least sometimes. Most of the time it's one of his laboratory assistants that does the cruel bit, the electric zapping. And the many, many times Pavlov is not here they have right good fun with it. They zap away and I have to look pleased. Look like I'm enjoying it. Then they'll give me something to eat.

So what do I get for my dinner? Not proper meat that would be too much trouble. No, not something nice, something tasty, that's too good for the likes of us. All we get is meat powder. Meat powder. Plain, boring meat powder. Horrible stuff not fit for a dog. If it's so good why don't they eat it? There they are tucking into great big joints, all roast and piping hot. Makes me hungry just thinking about it. No, I must not think about food. Think of that and they'll give me those electric shocks again. Down here all we have is dry old meat powder. No, I must not think of one of those delicious slabs of meat, real meat, delicious. Makes me want to salivate just thinking about it.

Hang on there, what's that sound? That door just opened. Is that a new smell? Smells like some new sightseers have just come to have a look. Just when I was having a good moan, isn't that always the way. Still got to do what's expected. Got some barking to do. May see you later, may not, most likely not. Better get on with my barking, it's expected. Bye.

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