Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blog moved to

Hi all!

Thanks for being loyal followers of my blog but I have outgrown blogspot and moved to my own website at Please follow me there. I think you'll like the new look and content. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Caplin Rous

Monday, May 18, 2009

How to train humans

Survey Results:
What's your social media connection to Caplin Rous?
  1. I am a HUGE fan of his on MySpace! (8 22%)
  2. MySpace is lame, that's why I'm FaceBook friends with Caplin. (10 27%)
  3. Those are both so early 2000s. Obviously I follow Caplin on twitter. (17 47%)
  4. Hey, Caplin has more than this old-school blog? Who knew? (13 36%)
  5. Caplin? Who's that? (1 2%)
36 total votes (multiples allowed)

Starting view count: 3071
Followers: 54

Looking cute with my head on my paws

Lately I've had quite a few animal friends--anipals as we call each other--comment on how well-trained my humans are. In fact, my references to my female human as my owner seem almost ludicrous considering that the asymmetrical aspects of our relationship are all in my favor. If one of us owns the other, clearly I own her.

After much consideration, I have decided to share some of my human-training tips with all pets in the spirit of making the world a better place. Please read this blog completely, take notes and study the potential application of these methods to your humans before attempting to apply them. Use caution: we don't want any accidents.

Rule 1: Be cute
This is almost too trivial to mention but it is the foundation of all human training. Your power over humans is based on your inherent cuteness and humans obvious ugliness.

Just because being cute is easy doesn't mean you shouldn't practice. Find a full-length mirror or other reflective surface. Lie down in front of it and rest your head on your paws. Practice looking up in a wistful way. Don't forget your ears! If you have floppy ears like some rabbits, try different positions. Do the ears look best lying flat along your back or draped over your eyes? For cats, try holding a toy such as a catnip mouse in your paws. Dogs should have a stick or a Frisbee, that serves the double purpose of making you look cute and your owner feel guilty.

It doesn't hurt to practice your tricks in front of a mirror too.
It's hard to improve on how cute I am here.

Rule 2: Don't do anything without a treat
Here's where most dogs go wrong, cats generally get this right. Don't chase that ball, shake that hand, or roll over if there is no obvious reward waiting for you when you're done. After you do your "trick," sit down and wait as long as it takes to get the treat.

This rule is critical! Breaking this rule even once leads your humans to believe that they are in control. This must not happen. The first few times may take a while but eventually your human's response time will shorten and the treat will be available immediately upon completion of the requested task.

Does it look like I am doing a trick without a treat here?

If you have broken this rule in the past, a great deal of patience and repetition will be required before you can retrain your human to the correct behavior. As you're waiting, remind yourself how you got into this mess and don't give in again.

Sheldon was just off-camera with the treat.

Rule 3: Don't forget the praise
It is important that you reward your human's good behavior with appropriate praise. After I get a tasty treat, I always remember to wiggle my ears. My humans love this, but yours may be different. Pay attention to your humans, what small thing can you do to make them happy? Then do that promptly after they've behaved correctly. Remember, delayed praise does not work with them, the more quickly you respond, the better.

In this photo I reward my owner by sitting on her lap.

Rule 4: Eeep so they can't sleep
This rule firmly establishes you as the dominant member of the pet-human partnership. Don't let your humans think they have control over when you deserve a treat. The best way to prove that you are in control is to wake your humans in the middle of the night and demand a treat. This will prove, even to their self-centric minds, that you are in control.

I implement this rule by jumping into my humans' bed and eeping loudly in their ears. If this doesn't work, I tap them on the face with my paw. Dogs may bark but not too loudly. If there are small children or babies in the household, you don't want to wake them or your humans will have to deal with that rather than giving you your treat.

This is another rule that is difficult for cats. No biting! Kneading is okay as long as it is not too painful. The goal here is to get a treat, not to be locked out of the bedroom. It is best if you can just purr very, very loudly. Humans find it almost impossible to get mad at you for that. If all else fails, sit on your human's face.

That should be enough to get you going. You can leave questions or additional tips in the comments section.

And remember, only positive feedback works with humans so don't bite the hand that feeds you!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Socially savvy capy

Survey Results:
How many toes do capybaras have?
  1. Four. You can only count one per foot since they're webbed. (3 12%)
  2. Ten. All normal animals have five digits on each foot. (3 12%)
  3. Sixteen. Four on each foot. (4 16%)
  4. Twelve. Three on each foot. (1 4%)
  5. Fourteen. Three on the left hand/foot, four on the right hand/foot. (0 0%)
  6. Fourteen. Four on the front, three on the back. (12 50%)
  7. Fourteen. Three on the front, four on the back. (1 4%)
24 votes (no multiples)
Well, you're half right. I mean exactly half of you were right. I have 14 toes, four on the front, three on the back. You get to count all of them even if they are webbed.

Starting view count: 2520
Followers: 49
Me checking my social media.
Don't pretend you never saw an animal use the computer before!

A fact that may surprise many humans is that the internet is slowly being taken over by animals. When you think about it, it makes sense. The internet is all about communicating interesting information from one--let's call them "person"--to another--again just a convenient term and not meant to imply human--"person." But what have humans got to say that's all that interesting? Nothing, that's what.

I was born on July 10, 2007. By August 21, when I was just over one month old, I wrote my first blog entry on MySpace. The title of that first post was "A day in the life of a capybara." Admit it, it sounds interesting right? Don't panic, here's the link. Try substituting the world's most populous vertebrate species for the word capybara in that title: A day in the life of a human. Are you yawning? I am.

About the same time I started blogging on MySpace, I fired up my own YouTube channel. As you can imagine, I was an immediate sensation. Well, not quite immediate. Since most people don't even know what a capybara is, it took a little while for them to warm up to me. My first video was of me licking the camera. I was adorable. I'd give you the link but you already have the link to the channel main page and you really ought to watch all of my videos not just the one or two I might happen to mention.

After YouTube came FaceBook. Took me a little while to warm up to that one. Switching between MySpace and FaceBook paradigms is confusing to capy brains. It's like humans are trying to torture us. Eventually I figured out most of FaceBook and now I think it's kind of fun.

Then, of course, there is this blog. Right now it's on BlogSpot but I'm hoping to move it to its own URL (

The last thing I've taken up is twitter. At first I hated it. The whole thing is humans posting little bits of non-information that no one cares about at all. And doing it real-time as if that's suddenly going to make it seem more important.

All of these internet outlets are called "social media." Humans claim they are the most social species (I guess they don't count ants, bees, termites and other obviously more social species, not to mention lichens and corals that are obligate symbiotes). But even granting them that title (which I am NOT), there are plenty of other social animals out there. And now we are taking over the internet!

I have to confess that I started the insurrection myself by building a guinea pig army on MySpace. Then I found General Napolean Buonaparte, a dog who is leader of L'Army des Animals on FaceBook. (Good job, Mon General!) And there are others, all working through the internet to transfer control of power from human to animal. (Ironically, the humans are always worrying about machines taking over. How silly is that?)

Along with our quest for world domination, we are not adverse to doing good deeds, especially if those good deeds come in the form of a party. Twitter is "The Place" for animal parties. I've been to two so far, @BrewstieButt, an artistic cat, organized a #pawpawty for his birthday. That was crazy! I also attended the bash put on by @FrugalDougal, a dog. Each of these #pawpawtys was a party and a fund-raising event for an animal-related charity. (It's amazing the kind of cash we animals have access to. Kind-of explains the recession.)

The #pawpawty was fizzling out when these tweets took place.

You should see the things we animals do when no humans are around! ZOMG, it's like we're all dogs or something. The transformation of the cats from aloof to bawdy is nothing short of shocking. I've even taken cats on spins around the pool. I can't say more or I might have to kill you--or at least bite you. You can read Brewskie's owner's blog about it here if you are interested (and you should be, for your own safety if nothing else).
I can control my owner's thoughts from down here.