This one's for Ez: Caplin Rous, a pet capybara
From Jeff Vandermeervia BoingBoing. Excerpts from "An Interview with Melanie Typaldos About Her Caplin Rous":
Caplin is at least as smart as a dog, although differently motivated. He won't do anything if there isn't something in it for him. It seems like he recognizes every person he's ever met and reacts differently to them.
In general, he is a very sweet and affectionate animal. He likes to sit on the couch next to me or in my lap while I feed him treats. Since he weighs 100 lbs, I can only have him in my lap for a few minutes before it starts cutting off circulation in my legs.
At night, Caplin likes to sleep under the covers if the weather is cold, or on the floor beside the bed in warmer weather.
In a single word, I would describe him as needy. He always wants to be with me and can "eep" loudly if he knows I am nearby but he can't get to me. He follows me around the house and the yard and expects me to watch him while he swims or grazes. He panics if he doesn't know where I am. When he thinks it's time for me to come home from work, he will go to the gate and wait for me.
When he was a month old I taught him to shake hands by saying "shake" and tapping his paw until he picked it up. It took 15 minutes for him to figure it out. The last trick I taught him was to go in a circle when I signal... To teach this I used one of his favorite foods, a fruit popsicle. Keeping the popsicle just out of reach, I led him in a little circle, rewarding each correct step. After two popsicles, he knew the trick.
Caplin is a very graceful in the water, more like an otter than a dog. He has an above ground swimming pool ... and he zips around underwater, putting his forepaws against his stomach and pushing off with his hind feet. I love to watch him play with his pool toys. He especially loves to swim through hoops.