PASTIMES OF ANIMALS.
Observer, Volume 7, Issue 335, 9 May 1885, Page 22
PASTIMES OF ANIMALS.
An English naturalist writes : Dogs, though not able to squander their time over a newspaper, will spend hour after hour seated at a window watching all that passes in the street ; or, in the evening, regarding a mouse-hole — not with the slightest idea of gain or profit, but merely as an agreeable means of passing the time. Then there are the long-continued flights of tame pigeons about ou.r houses, the quadrille of the housefly across our ceilings, the gamboling of gnats, and the hovering in the sun of those bright-colored, two winged flies we sometimes call drones. Even the patient ass, that beast of many woes, is naturally rather light-hearted, through his ordinary relaxation seldom goes beyond a roll in a dusty road when off duty; but those who have kept and cared for one know well enough his loud, clear bray of honest recognition anc * j°y a t the sight of anyone to whom he is attached ; while an underworked, joyous donkey, fond of sport, has been even seen to indulge in hunting pigs round a farm-yard, catching and holding them by the tail until their squeals brought the owner to the rescue. i No boy out of school shows his sense of happiness or freedom more strongly than a horse or pony does when first turned loose for a run at grass — tearing round the paddock, now stopping for a moment to snort and fill his lungs with the fresh, open air, and then, with a kick up of the heels, continuing his gallop. These spells of play last longer with some horses than others, depending often upon the length of time the animal has been stable-fed. A horse that is turned out daily merely trots ofl; a few yards with a merry laugh before beginning to nibble the fresh, sweet grass. In their stable the amusements of horses too often take the form of wanton mischief, or some such " horse-play " as unhooking a stable jacket and tearing it up, or biting holes in their own clothing, kicking their stalls to bits, etc. : while a very playful pony has been known to indulge in pulling the feathers out of tame pigeons' tails. Talking of pigeons reminds me of the quantity of small talk, gos• sip, or scandal indulged in by them and certain other birds before retiring for the night or beginning work for the day. Housesparrows, starlings, and rooks are all very chatty at these times ; while birds who lead more solitary lives nearly always end and begin the day with a song of joy.