Eddie Izzard on cats and dogs

When it comes to retrieving thrown objects, Baxter the Wonder Dog is just like the dog Izzard describes. After bringing the ball or other toy back once or occasionally twice, he decides to call it quits.


  1. jrkrideau says

    One can train a cat. It does help to have a Ph.D in Applied Behavioural Analysis and the patience of Job but it can be done(1). It also helps to sacrifice a pigeon to the Great God Skinner occasionally.

    Many cats love to play fetch. I used to have this great fetch routine: Sit up in bed reading; the cat arrives carrying her ball; throw ball into hallway; repeat. After a few warm-up rounds, throw ball harder so that it ricochets off the hall walls, bounces down the stairs and disappears into the darkened living room. I usually got tired before the cat.

    1. Literally, the only person, I know of who has done this, has roughly these qualifications.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    My ex-cat arrived (as a kitten) with fetching behavior.
    She also taught us to position ourselves with one at each end of a long hallway, rolling a ball down the length so she could leap out from a side-room and catch it.
    She gave up on all of this as she aged.

  3. VolcanoMan says

    My English Springer Spaniel much prefers “tug” and “chase” to “fetch” so you have to get creative if you want to exercise him in the yard (without being an unwitting exerciser yourself) -- an unwary player of “fetch” will not be playing “fetch” for more than one throw. I’ve found that using TWO balls is a neat hack that will allow for a game of “fetch” (lasting for a few minutes anyway), because he’d always rather have the ball that you’re holding at the moment, a sort of “grass is greener” situation I think. When I throw a ball now, he may intend to go and grab it and run away from me, forcing me to chase him, but when he sees me holding another ball and working up to throw it, he runs back to me with ball number 1 and promptly drops it so he can try to get ball number 2. Then I throw the second ball and pick up the one he dropped as he runs to get it. When he gets bored with this, I give in to his desire to be chased (with or without a ball), a game (as I said) he much prefers. And if we’re playing with sticks, we’ll do some “tug” as well (though I don’t let him play with sticks very often because he tends to eat them -- copious amounts of cellulose is NOT good for his digestive tract).

    Funny thing is, I’m not sure if I trained him to do this, or if he trained ME, and the behavior I am exhibiting results from learning his own particular traits and preferences.



  4. jazzlet says

    VolcanoMan @2
    That two ball game used to be very familiar to me with the springer spaniel I had. The German Shepherds I have now just don’t give you the ball back at all, they like to have something to carry and once they have that something most other things are of no interest. The exception is the boy with sticks, he doesn’t drop the one(s) he has, but he will cram as many new ones into his mouth as he can, six is not uncommon, eight has been achieved -- obviously this is dependant on the size of the sticks, but he will rearrange the sticks so the smallest are at the V at the back of his jaw and the larger ones towards the front of his mouth.

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