There are a few animals who actually work here. The dog Annie, for example. Her job is predator deterrence, patrol and protection for others such as the two cats, Joschka and Uncle Tom, also known as 'Homeland Security, Rodent Department'. Those two are an awesome team. Using Dept. of Justice-approved 'enhanced interrogation techniques', they achieve a 100% conviction rate. Sweet little birds, cute little bunnies that could have fooled me all confess to being terrorists, sent to infiltrate and destroy my house!

The raven Carlos, on the other hand, decidedly does not work here. She lives a life of leisure dedicated to the three D's:

Deterioration, Destruction and Demolition, which she carries out in a quite charming manner. She comes and goes as she pleases, since she has her own door into my house; she terrorizes the chickens, geese and cats and mutilates plants for fun. Living with a raven is like living with a three year old Klingon; it is quite fascinating if one isn't too attached to one's material possessions.

Ravens can count til seven; they can make tools and use them just like primates; they learn extremely fast, and with a lifespan of 45 years can learn a lot, but their mind is that of a dinosaur, way different from a mammal's.They express emotions such as joy, sadness and anger;   they can be gone for weeks, and then come back and hang out in the house for days engaging in deconstructionist decor, or downholstery of furniture, or stashing raw meat behind books and under pillows. In agricultural terms they are quite useless; often when I have planted seedlings the Raven followed me to rip them back out - as a team, we did fairly carbon-neutral gardening. Ravens have a habit of pecking numerous holes in vegetables they do not like to eat, or pulling off green tomatoes and unripe peppers. They also attack irrigation systems with true dedication. An adult raven can - and will - fly off with something as heavy as half a pound, or more, such as a cellphone, digital camera, pocketknife or wallet; sometimes these items can be retrieved, more often not.           

A zenlike detachment from all mammon behooves the human companion of a raven -  only then can one join it in it's joy over having pushed a particularily nice-sounding glass or bowl off a table, or torn  a particularily resilient piece of rubber out a car's door seal or windshield wiper. Ravens will peck or pinch a person if they are angry, or excited, or playful, or bored; it hurts a lot more when they are angry.

They can't really be trained in the sense of taking orders on how to behave [or, far more often, NOT to behave], though they might take suggestions if accompanied by a bribe. Any efforts of some kind of toilet-training are doomed since a raven isn't interested in it. So why doesn't everybody have one of these entertaining birds?

Ravens can say really sweet, soft, soothing things when they are happy and content, in a voice dripping with milk and honey, and only those who get close to them will ever hear this, or see that ravens really aren't black but deep metallic-blue with rainbow luster. And they fly like dolphins swim, care-free tricksters in a gravity-free world, soaring and surfing, not to forget the odd mobbing of an eagle or hawk...