On Marriage: An Essay on Animal Behavior

Like a Dog Returns to its Vomit Twice
Jake and Dinos Chapman
Wallowing is a part of the behavioral repertoire of some animals. They evolved to rely on mud to cool the body. They may use mud baths to scrape off parasites such as ticks or lice, or they may release their scent glands in wallowing areas - possibly as a way of marking territory. It's also good fun.

The wallowing was costly, breathing deep in the sheets to find the smell of him when he was young, but finding sweat. Exhaustion. Fear. 

Some animals may roll in carcasses or the droppings of plant-eating animals to cover up their own smell, allowing them to sneak up on their prey on a hunt. You may have observed recently groomed domestic dogs darting out to roll in mud, indulging an instinct that harkens back to their ancestors.

Like the grandmothers, returning to their drunk husbands, silence, and dishes. Laundry, loneliness, bacon grease. Visiting the hairdresser and getting a perm. Flat irons. Bibles, pages creased and marked. Lipstick marks on coffee cups.

Some animals eat their own feces or vomit, returning to it to harvest any undigested nutrition they can recover. The young of some mammals eat the feces of their mothers or other animals in the herd in order to obtain bacteria required to digest the vegetation in their habitats. Female barn owls build simple nests of their own regurgitated pellets.

So you do what you can, where you are. Maybe the baby sleeps beside you because you're afraid for her to be too far away. You pull the blankets back from her face and let her nurse. She smells like you, and you lock the bedroom door to keep him out - his sounds upset her.

Zookeepers, delighted to watch a mother bear finally delivering her cubs, were horrified when the bear bent not to groom her newborn, but to eat it. They watched as she delivered 2 more cubs, eating one of them and turning her back on the other.  When mammals give birth, they must begin nursing their infants - which they will only do if they are safe, healthy, and well-nourished. If she can't find enough to eat, she may kill and consume her young. Other creatures eat their mates, like the female praying mantis, biting off his head to devour his corpse for nourishment. It's a matter of resources.

Sometimes, there just isn't enough for all of them. It's a matter of resources.

Some animals, such as beavers, wolves, angelfish, shingleback lizards, and many birds can mate with a partner for life rather than for a season. Gibbons live in small, stable family groups with a monogamous mated pair and their offspring. The families defend territories together, and the mated pair awaken their family with songs in the morning. Some animals that mate for life go through a period of grieving when their mates die. 

She resisted the urge to smell his shirt when she found it in the back of a drawer. Like a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.


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