Monday, July 7, 2014

From the Desk of Agent Wilbur

To: FuegoOfTheSpots@dogs.woof
From: AgentW@aaf.cats

Subject: Results of Continued Training of Human Subject

Mr. Fuego,

I have reviewed the data you've sent me concerning the "morning training" of the young human that lives with you. It's a worthy cause, and I've found your results most fascinating. But have you ever considered other training methods?

From what I've seen, you've been using a type of operant conditioning-- negative reinforcement. In terms a dog could understand, you remove the annoying sound of your growling when the human does what you want, therefore encouraging her to behave the way you want her to in the future.

I know you wanted me to continue this type of training while she was in my territory so that you wouldn't have to re-train her when she got back to your house, but I found I was much too tempted to experiment.

It has been my experience that dogs, being quite loyal to their human caretakers, tend to keep the same diurnal hours that humans keep. Within the agency, however, we cats exploit the night and the humans' absence to carry out our secret missions and projects.

My theory was this: If an animal were to keep the human awake all night, then the human would be awake and available to serve the animal in the morning, removing the usual bother of having to wake the human up.

My experiment began shortly after your owner and her young human companion arrived in my zone of jurisdiction. Using all the skills I've learned from my many years at the agency, I stared into her eyes and read the story of her past. I found an interesting incident with one of my brethren, a cat who had stayed at her home once and frightened her by creeping about in the night. Although the young human seemed bothered by the way I stared intently at her, I achieved my goal of finding her weakness: an irrational paranoia toward cats at nighttime.

Later on, while she was preparing for bed, I slipped into her bedroom and hid under her bed. I waited until she returned to the room, and, when she least expected it, I slipped out from under the bed and touched her with my nose.

The frightened sound she made was amusing to say the least, but I will attempt to keep my observations objective.

With that one moment of panic, I introduced her to the fact that I can be anywhere in this house at any time without making my presence known. As a feline agent, I possess the greatest stealth skills, but I didn't even have to use them after I performed my little trick. Every shadow was me sneaking around a corner. Every noise was my footstep under her bed. What glorious paranoia I caused that night.

However, that mere paranoia was insufficient to keep her awake all night, especially after she searched every corner of the room and determined that I was not there (although if I had wanted to be there, I could have done so without being seen). I had a bit of help from the weather in keeping her awake, but when the weather calmed down, she actually managed to fall asleep, and then was the time for action.

I took a leaf from your book and meowed rather loudly outside her bedroom door, hoping that eventually she would open the door and let me in. I even pawed and clawed at the carpet. I could tell from the sound of her breathing that she was awake.

I'll give her this much: she put up a good fight. It was several hours of meowing and general racket until she opened the door and admitted me. By then, the sun had begun to rise, and I suspect she despaired of falling asleep before the morning arrived in full. However, I was not willing to take any chances and botch the experiment, so I busied myself with wandering around the room and jumping on the furniture.

I also jumped on her legs and stomach. She mostly rolled over and tried to ignore me, but by the time the morning came, she had resigned herself to entertaining me by moving her foot back and forth under the blanket for me to pounce upon.

She even petted me when I granted her a brief respite and settled down on her stomach. You were right, Mr. Fuego, she is very good at petting cats and dogs.

In the end, it was my usual wait staff who served me breakfast, but when breakfast time came, the young human was awake, alert, and capable of doing it herself.

I hope this experiment has proved useful to you. Best of luck in training the young human. I honestly think you have your hands full with this one. She's even worse than the youngest human on my wait staff. I will continue to investigate the odd sleeping patterns of humans once they reach their adolescent years. Hopefully I will unearth some answers.

If you require the agency's assistance again (and let's face it, you're a dog, so we all know you will), I implore you to ask.

Agent Wilbur
Agency of American Felines
Virginia Beach Division

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