As we mentioned last time (We survive our first winter), we woke up to something called ‘exams’ – and pretty crucial ones at that. Until now we had thought ‘board’ meant the feeling that urges you to do something crazy just to brighten up life. You know, when Big Sis or Dad are busy on their little black boxes we’d so love to get our teeth on or Mom at that darn thing that usurps our place… we mean, it sometimes seems doubtful if humans know the distinction between lapTOP and lapDOG. Anyway, to get back to the point: we have only just learnt that ‘board’ may sound like it but is not necessarily the same thing to do with we feel when we have nothing to do and nobody to give us any attention. We still do not understand how the two are different since our ears cannot tell them apart, but it seems they are. So let’s leave it at that.
To be frank, we cannot understand what the hue and cry is about. That is, once we get over the initial confusion.
That confusion is apparently shared by all our young friends. None of us are really clear on whether we are giving exams or taking them. We thought we had cracked it when a book pronounced ‘give’, making us agree with most of those on the right side of 18. And then it hit us – the words are ‘pareeksha dena‘ – giving a test. But that is Hindi. Bilingual though we may be (tri – if you count the German we know – When the cat’s away ….), we slid right back to being confused about the give and take of exams. It depends on who is doing the testing. So just to get a perspective, we transport a shawl or sock from one part of the house to that part least likely to hold that object and see how quickly and with what degree of calm Mom can locate it. That way we design a test and do the assessment. On other occasions, Mom with her ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘quiet’, and the one truly designed to makes us scoot in the opposite direction to hers, “WHO has done this?” does the testing, the assessment and the feedback by way of treats or pats on the – er – rump. It seems that those on the right side of 18 are currently taking their exams. Or at least, we think so.
Once we are somewhat sorted on that, we are pros at being ‘exam prepared’. The newspaper comes by 7 a.m. By 10 a.m. you can ask us anything about it – we have truly chewed it to bits. By 2 p.m. we can do the food analysis of what was placed in our bowls: high protein that makes us lick them clean or mushy veggies that are not worth the effort. Our study schedule is truly in place. There is more to our schedule but one also needs to take regular breaks or the razor-sharp faculties will get exhausted. So in the middle of the physical education test of fetching balls, we just flop down and grab a shut eye. Clears the mind, you see. We are practical to the tips of our feathery tails. We keep things manageable so that we can reward ourselves and feel good. Clever as we are, we know that sitting through two hours of Mom’s Shakespeare lecture will kill us. So after a while, we stroll out to lick Big Sis’s nose for a quick pat or get a tickle below the ears from Dad, a much earned reward after absorbing as much as we can then, before returning to our place under the study table.
Decent hours of sleep is not a problem for us unless we do something that gets us pushed off the bed. Sleep in the bend of Big Sis or Mom’s knees or with our head on their feet (just to keep a check they do not slink out after curfew time) gets us good and ready for the next thing on our schedule. Healthy meals are never an issue because our Folks are fanatical about providing those to us. Sometimes the grub can be a bit tasteless and we’d do anything for the yellow fingers or brown squares or red cheesy triangles the Folks dig into; but then they may not really be too good for our insides so we move away if our pawing and spaniel eyes cannot get those thrown our way. Water is good too, and we like to have plenty of it – especially if it comes from the garden pipe. Not that we are allowed too much of that. It is the same old bowl for us. So just to show we are miffed, we slurp and slosh and let water dribble from our mouths into little puddles on the floor. That’s one of the tests we give – to check how supple the Folks are while mopping and what level of calm mediation they have reached about the number of times they have to prove this.
It helps to hone our skills in company. We love company and the merest whiff of a fellow canine will make us strain at our leashes or get really excited. Working in groups does help – at times – especially if we can explain ourselves aloud. However, we don’t think any of our canine acquaintances feel the same way. Mom says it is because we are overwhelmingly over-excitable and want to sniff, paw, clamber, bark and whine at the same time. We have driven away quite a few. So I guess it really depends on whether the group thing works or one prefers peace and silence.
At the end of it all, writing (a safe word for those still confused about the give and take of exams) an exam is just another thing life throws at you. Good to be prepared and do one’s best but not good to burden oneself with undue anxiety in the process. And that’s the bow-wow truth.