Thursday, April 07, 2016

the ties that bind

They are few, but they happen.

Connections between Barco and Steve.

Professor Jiggs and I had a rather odd relationship. We were like room-mates. He tolerated me as long as I would keep feeding him.

Barco is heading down that same path. Everyone, but me, gets a huge Barco welcome to the house -- complete with puppy wiggles and a mouth leading the new friend to whatever is the special toy of the day.

Me?  He seldom gets up or lifts his head. If I am lucky his eyes will follow me to see if I am headed to the kitchen. Then he will get up and come along in the hope of feeding his food Jones. Otherwise, he maintains his prone position.

Recently we met on the same level. I was in the kitchen cutting up three jalapeño peppers for an egg dish. When I sliced the top off of one, it fell on the floor -- right in front of Barco. Before I could grab it from him, he had it his mouth and ran out the kitchen door.

Even though I am no fan of B.F. Skinner, behavioral aversion therapy seems to work. But not this time. I thought he would immediately spit the pepper out once he got a heavy shot of capsaicin.

When he bit into it, he had a curious look on his face. He then picked up the pace of chewing and ate the whole thing.

About a week later, he picked up an intact jalapeño in our street. He insisted on bringing it home with him. At first, he treated it like a ball or a stuffed toy. Until he tired of playing with it, and ate the full pepper.

He is now officially a member of the Cotton clan. My mother, my brother, and I all like spicy food. The spicier, the better. We can now add Barco to that honor roll.

When Professor Jiggs was a puppy, he could not keep his nose out of the trash can. My research suggested using Tabasco sauce around the rim of the can. That night I found Professor Jiggs obsessively licking the rim. He loved the taste.

It must run in the family.

Note -- While I was writing this piece, Barco got into my sock closet and took every pair out in the courtyard in a very neat pile. No peppers were harmed in the performance.

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