Playing Possum: A Pettigrew Mystery

Pettigrew with sloth
Pettigrew chills with his friend the sloth.

For the past several weeks I have been pondering one of Pettigrew’s distinctive behaviors. I have talked to colleagues and friends. I remain in the dark as to what is going on.

Pettigrew likes to lie, one might say collapse, in very public places and remain there unmoving. Seemingly dead. Everyone in the family has come across him and done a double and then a triple check. We’ve gone so far as to creep close to confirm his chest is, indeed, rising and falling with his breath.

Some of the theories we’ve considered.

Yoga pose. Just like there’s the Downward Dog position, which aptly captures a dog’s stretch—front paws straight, head aligned between them, rump in the air—perhaps Pettigrew is modeling the Dead Dog pose: a pose of deep relaxation. Lie on your side, arms and legs extended out from the body, yet relaxed, and enter a deep, trance-like state.

Constant vigilance. Unable to fall asleep, Pettigrew feels he must be on his guard, watching all the comings and goings of the family. So, he collapses from exhaustion in a public walkway or at the bottom of the stairs from which vantage point he can observe all without having to move.

Doggie meditation. Pettigrew assumes a comfortable position that he can maintain for extended periods of time. Lets his eyes drift closed. Slows his breathing. Then allows sounds to come and go without responding…even to his name!

Playing possum. Starved for attention, Pettigrew fakes being dead so that we will get concerned and then relieved when he finally moves.

Bid for privacy. Pettigrew has no room in which he can hide when he just wants to be alone. Perhaps he retreats into his own mind, employing the age-old theory: if I don’t see you, you don’t see me.

What do you, reader of this blog, think is going on when we come upon Pettigrew lying unmoving at the bottom of the stairs? Please let me know if you have any thoughts. I am eager to figure this out.

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