A Thinking Dog (Part 2 of a 3 part series)

My guardian calls herself a trainer (she knows it isn’t always about training the DOG if ya’ know what I mean).  She knows what it’s like to work with challenges.  She knows I am a thinking dog.

I’ve been to obedience training, and let me tell you – I used to have them all really well trained!   I’m going to have to up my efforts again though…I overhear my guardian say over and over that training is a “use it or lose it” process.  A thinking dog must stay on one’s toes to keep the family well trained and lately I am seeing some things I’m not so sure I like.

(using my wily ways and charming personality to con my guardian out of a few treats!)

(using my wily ways and charming personality to con my guardian out of a few treats!)

Not only am I a thinking dog, I am a GOOD dog.  I do all the things a dog is supposed to do.

I used to have to help clean the counters when they leave food up there.   I guess I’ve done my job training them, they clean up after themselves now and don’t leave food out on the table or in the kitchen.  I’ve even taught the teenagers to put their shoes away (although once in a while, I do miss the taste of a nice leather boot or the chewy texture of a flip flop) and thanks to me airing their dirty laundry, they manage to get their socks and underwear in the laundry basket instead of leaving them on the floor.

I used to show off my incredibly high-pitched Barking to alert them anytime someone was on our turf (I knew I was doing a great job, because for a while, the whole family joined the fun and would bark along with me!) I may be slacking there, though because they don’t bark along anymore, so I usually have to go investigate why.   I have to stop barking, and then go search for my owner to see what could be more fun than barking at the window!  After all, I am a thinking dog.

Our new dog (keep following our blogs…you’re sure to meet him soon) – I taught him everything he knows.  It can be very tough to work with a stone-headed puppy that is literally twice my size!  When foster dogs come to stay with us for a while, I help teach them manners too.  I am a star at tactfully correcting another dog’s erroneous ways but am always sure to let them know I am friendly and good with socialization.   I am a thinking dog.

I am the best greeter EVER – all I have to do is give a little jump and the visitors just pat me on the head, talk to me and bend down to visit.  (The petting is sometimes awkward and almost as if they were pushing me away but hey, hands on is still hands on in my book!).  These people are becoming less trained by the day…they no longer pet me when I jump.  Often, they offer me a treat for sitting even before I get the chance to jump up.  Sometimes they turn around and completely ignore me – I am mystified by this and often sit down to consider what I might be doing wrong (I am a thinking dog after all)…then BAM!  A treat comes my way.  Silly humans!

I am very good at protection. The mailman and delivery truck drivers are so well-trained now that I don’t even have to bark before they offer me a treat!  I chase any and all wildlife away – I’ve even been known to jump the fence to keep those pesky deer from munching my guardian’s prized tulips!  Almost caught one once… I am so fast that I can run circles around my guardians in the forest for hours on end.  I’m not so dull that a simple treat will lure me in when I’m out having the time of my life.  “Chase” is my favorite game, especially when my guardian runs the other way (I always catch her, and then it’s time to go back in for another treat).   I am a thinking dog.

Hmmm…now that I think about it, maybe what she was looking for all-along was a quiet dog that greets people politely, doesn’t jump the fence to chase wildlife and comes when called.  I may have to re-think my human training routine to keep her on her toes.  After all, I am a thinking dog.

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A Thinking Dog (part 1)

I believe you all have been introduced to my housemate, Dino.  Well, he may be considered the family sweetheart (aka, the easy dog, the people pleaser, etc) but I take credit for being the brains behind this 3-dog operation.   While Dino is the epitome of a “dogosophical” dog, I help inspire the teachings to get one there.  I am a true, thinking dog.

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Dino, the Guardian & Sugar – chillaxin’ at the dog park

A little backstory:  You may have read in a previous blog about how Dino, the yellow Labrador came into the life of a loving family who felt the need to make up for “failing” a rescue dog.  Well, I have to respect that he paved the way for me.  Dino became the happy, healthy, well-trained and very social dog everyone wants.  After some great successes over the dog days of summer, thinking that dog ownership is a walk in the park, and knowing that the work days would be picking up for his family, the guardians decided that Dino should have someone else around to spend his days with.  The family also realized that their hearts were really behind “saving” a dog from the uncertain fate that falls many-a-shelter animal and did not want to go the route of another breeder or (heaven-forbid) a puppy store.   The hunt was on to find a dog that they could rescue, a dog that would keep Dino company, a dog that would never be boring…a thinking dog.

After much thought about what they really wanted in a second dog, tons of research on different dog breed traits, and searching multiple dog rescue websites, going to adoption fares, etc. they were found a small “foster-only” rescue organization where they happened upon me.  My “mom” was a border collie, found as a pregnant stray on the side of the road in Illinois farm country in October of 2006.  She was taken in and brought to a foster home in Chicago’s western suburbs and litter of 9 puppies arrived soon after.  Most resembled mom – black & white border collies with little brown tips here and there…then there was me.  I was a smallish, golden-retriever looking pup with a face (and a brain) like my mom.   The rescue organization kept all puppies until we were weaned and healthy and had our first round of shots (about 8 weeks) so they gave us names to reflect the time they hoped we would transition into our fur-ever homes.  My brothers were given holiday names like Humbug, Tiny Tim, Ebenezer, Jacob & Marley and Prince.  The females were Clara, Belle and me – Sugar Plum.  We all ended up being Christmas puppies to families all over Illinois.

Dino & I get along quite well.   He taught me not to bite too hard, showed me where to go when I need to relieve myself, let me know where the best sleeping spots and treats are kept and generally what it takes to keep the two-leggers on their toes around here. To this day, he is very tolerant and doesn’t challenge me much.  He doesn’t really challenge anyone.  That is my job.  I am a thinking dog…

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Sugar Plum – in her “thinking dog” mode