Bear with me. I feel like rambling a bit today.
Many years ago now, when our youngest was about four, a friend came for supper. She's a lovely lady, a fair bit older than us and a dwarf. She works with children as a story teller and is therefore well used to children. When he was four she and Ralph were just about the same size and when she arrived Ralph simply assumed that she had come to play with him and invited her to play with his train set. I was a little embarassed and not sure what to say but this lady was totally at ease and spent a few minutes explaining that although she was his size she was in fact here as Mummy's friend and not to play with him. Ralph listened patiently to the explanation, nodded and then took her hand and tried to pull her off the chair into the playroom; he simply didn't believe her. At this point I intervened and pointed him towards his supper - distraction tactics!
Ralph's reaction, she told me, was typical of children his age and not at all something to worry or be embarassed about. In other words, she switched from explaining things to Ralph to putting me at ease - she really is one of the most remarkable women I know. She also told me of other reactions she has had to deal with, including one child (who I know and who is part of the most together and loving family I know) who thought that she had never grown because she was naughty as a child. He was terrified and it took a long time and a lot of patience and explanation from his parents before he dared go into the same room as her.
Apparently animals are the same. You may recall that earlier in the year we lost our wonderful dog, Titch. To cut a long story short we now have a Bearded Collie puppy bitch called Tipsy (we were going to call her Titbit but her French breeder explained that said with a French accent it would cause a lot of discomfort to any man with a complex and might get us into trouble!) who is a delight and a bit of a tomboy. She arrived here in early August about two weeks after our latest batch of chicks were born. For simplicities sake our young chicks live in a coop outside the kitchen until they are old enough to join the big ones at the other end of the garden.
The other dogs are very good with all the chickens and to begin with Tipsy just ignored the small ones and didn't go near the big ones. She grew, the chicks grew, they all became a bit more daring. The other day Max went outside and I heard a lot of cross words aimed at Tipsy: he'd found her sitting on one of the chicks and was ticking her off. She looked most hurt but the chick ran off to find his brothers and sisters completely unharmed.
The other day I was in the room next to the kitchen when I saw the chicks all hop into the kitchen (the door is always open in this fine weather and I'd forgotten to put fence up) and start eating the dogs' food. This involves the chicks sitting on the edge of the bowls and pecking away. Tipsy came in and watched them for a while. I felt as though I was reading her mind. She showed no aggression whatsoever but started dancing up and down, just as she does when she wants to play with Tosca or Tickle (the other two dogs). The chicks had no fear and ignored her completely. Suddenly Tipsy heard me move and in she came, looking at me as if to say: "I just don't get it. They eat my food, they wander around my play area, but they won't play with me." I am quite certain that when she was found sitting on a chick, for Tipsy it was just playtime.