January 7, 2010

What We Know

Dogs are very smart. You may already know this, but truly, we are intelligent, clever, and some days, downright brilliant.

For instance, I know when it’s time to leave the house because there is always a jangle of keys. If Gretchen goes to the treat cupboard first, and then I hear the keys, I know I’m not going with her.

I know the sound of our car alarm. When it beeps, I know I’m about to jump in and go for a car trip. If I’m already in the car, waiting for my moms to return and I hear the beep, I know they are about to come get me.

I know the difference between a stranger at the door and a friend, the difference between a cat racing in front of me and a squirrel, and exactly where on the fence the squirrel or cat or sometimes the crow like to sit and taunt me. I know when we’re about to go on a trip and plant myself squarely in the middle of all the luggage so they won’t forget me and I know the road to my Grandparents’ house, my Uncle’s house, and the agility arena because I sit up and whine a little was we approach.

But I’m not the only smart dog. Many of the dogs we walk are as brilliant (or close to it) as I am. Take Ollie, for instance. When we pick him up for our walk, as we did today, he knows we’re most likely going to pick up another dog along the way. He knows exactly which dog he WANTS to pick up since he has a very big crush on Gemma. So if we head toward her house and DON’T stop, he gets really upset and starts whining and bouncing at the end of the leash, pulling us toward Gemma’s house.

Gemma is really smart, too. She knows that if she nudges Ollie with her nose, he’ll take off running and Gemma is all about the chase. She also knows that if she stands between me and my ball, I’ll have to run by her and therefore she can chase me. She knows where Saber lives because she has a crush on him (don’t tell Ollie) and often pulls us in that direction when we head to the park.

Rosie, Gretchen tells me, is highly intelligent. She is slow to trust humans because she’d been treated badly in the past. Not now, of course. Now she has the bestest lovingest home (as she describes it to Gretchen). As Rosie grows to trust Gretchen more and more, she’s more and more comfortable, which means, as it did today, that she’s ready to show her clownish, silly side more often.

Rosie learns quickly and today’s game illustrates how intelligent she is. Gretchen put a long line on Rosie and then threw treats in different directions. Rosie chased after and then quickly learned that if she came when Gretchen called another treat would be waiting for her. Rosie also knows that when she shakes her head, she gets covered in slobber and to Rosie, that’s the best thing ever!

Alice now knows that when Gretchen comes through the door, there’s no reason to bark. She is not a threat; Gretchen is a friend. Alice also knows that her flexi-leash is really, really long and so when we go to Frink Park, she can race up and down the trails with me…

…or wait for me on the trail, while I get ready to pounce from the bushes.

Alice, like me, knows that the best chicken bones in all the world can be found on Jackson street and so, just like me, she walks with her nose to the ground hoping to hit a chicken bone gold mine!

Saber, though he is young, knows quite a bit for his age. He knows that sometimes we come to his house twice a day and others, like today, just once. He knows to wait in his kennel until Gretchen calls him out, to sit quietly while she puts on his leash, and wait at the door before going out. He also knows that usually, though not always, there will be a dog waiting on the porch or in the car port with whom he can play and if there isn’t a friend there, he’ll get a really fun walk with Gretchen who feeds him lots of treats to reinforce his “heal” at her side.

He also knows that, despite my vocalizations, I’m just playing and really want him to butt his head into me as we race around the tennis courts. And though he steals my ball every once in awhile, he’s smart enough to know that I don’t really mind very much at all.

Just a little, but not too much. =-)

He also knows that there are more treats waiting after each posed shot.

I know lots and lots more, but the best thing I know is that I have the best job in the world!

Until tomorrow,


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