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Dog´s Memory


A Story about Tari Written in 2003

Since last Christmas, our Tari has been wearing muzzle always when unleashed. This is not because he is aggressive or because I wish to be an exemplary citizen abiding by the Czech law, which requires unleashed dogs wear muzzles. Or because I am afraid of being fined again, just like one year ago, when the alert and intransigent urban police caught us in the very act – which means without any muzzle. The main reason why Tari wears muzzle is the fact that his atavistic hunger makes him eat the strangest possible things found in the least probable places.

One year ago around Christmas, our Tari discovered the magic of a bird feeder. There is one fitted to a one-meter high pole near the path we usually walk, and my poor ever-hungry hound just stood up a little on his rear legs, cleaning the content of the feeder with his tongue. He absolutely did not care whether there were pieces of bread, fruit or birdseed there. Local bird-lovers regularly filled in food in the feeder, keeping my dog quite happy. When frost came, pieces of fat on string began to appear attached high in tree branches in several places. I could not imagine how anybody could put them so high. Large, tasty pieces of fat… everything a hungry thin Azawakh may wish for. When Tari first discovered the fat, he jumped and cried below the tree, and I laughed at him. You will never jump that high, I mocked. But my dog took off like a rocket, pulled down about half-a-kilo of fat, and escaped to the bushes to eat it.  From then on, he spent our walks walking with his head high, searching with his eyes and nose in the endeavour to discover another piece of tasty fat. I started feeling worried that our beloved Prince might have developed a crisis of identity, thinking he had metamorphosed in a tiny little tit.

We bought a muzzle and troubles were over. A muzzle with a double bottom, to be on the safe side. What a perfect invention! Tari soon understood that with a muzzle, there was no sense in trying to eat anything, he stopped howling under the trees and trying to climb them, and our walks became much peaceful. Year passed, Christmas time came again, and Tari´s passion for fat was long forgotten. Or at least that was what I thought.

One day, we met Tari´s buddy, a Rhodesian Ridgeback teenager. The boys started chasing each other wildly, and after some time, they began their favourite wrestling session. We took their muzzles off, so that the boys could do what they loved most – chewing each other’s heads. As soon as Tari was without his muzzle, a playing doggie changed into a sniffing beast. He left his buddy and with his head high, he trotted to a tree by the path. Only then I realised why. A large piece of fat hung high in the tree branches… My dog jumped (I am tempted to say he spread his wings and flew), snapped off the fat and ran away to the bushes to hide himself from his buddy and most importantly from me. He feasted on his precious prey without leaving a tiny bit, and after a while, he returned to me pulling an utterly happy face of a (at long last) satiated dog. I put his muzzle on and we started our way home. All of a sudden, Tari accelerated and went ahead, breaking violently under a tree on which somebody had hung a large piece of fat one year before. Tari was standing there, his neck as long as a giraffe’s, searching with his eyes in the tree branches where nobody had hung any fat for one year. He did not find anything. He ran fast to another tree where previous year the best pieces of fat used to hang. With his eyes and nose, he searched the tree… My dog even remembered the exact branches where the fat hung one year before, as well as the exact spot from which it could be seen best. I was just standing there, watching him in surprise.

I had always known dogs had quite a good memory, but I had always noticed just short-term memory or a memory connected in a certain way to still-existing scent or acoustic phenomena. This, however, was something altogether different, something like… imagination… abstract thoughts… My clever dog taught me a lesson again on dog intelligence and capabilities, giving me another reason for feeling a deep respect for this exceptional being.


Some Years After…


Some years after the above-mentioned experience, I found out the truth about the fat for tits. One day, strolling through our favourite places with Tari, I met a nice elderly couple. We started talking. They used to feed birds regularly and with interest, they watched Tari (with his muzzle on), trotting around the bird feeder. They told me: “We come here to feed the birds, you know. But sometimes, the birdseed disappears too fast. When winter comes, we also put large pieces of fat for tits; we hang them high so that nobody could reach them. But you would not believe it; the fat has disappeared several times. No animal could take it away, as the fat was hanging too high. We really cannot imagine what happened… “

I did not dare to disclose Tari´s and mine secret: the fat and birdseed had been picked by a hungry Azawakh…