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

Tricks, Treats & Scaredy-Dogs, OH MY

The weather changes make humans do strange things this time of year!  Why, just a few weeks ago random carcasses started showing up in the house and in the yards around the neighborhood where we walk.   Skulls, femurs, scrumptiously raw, bloody-looking things are all over the place.  It’s really quite confusing as none of these things smell the way they should and you would think I killed it by the way my guardian reacts whenever one of us canines finds these plastic-tasting bones. I’m beginning to think it’s all an elaborate ruse!  The worst part is that soon, there will be hundreds of frightening creatures coming to the door for hours on end.  My guardians…they OPEN the door!  Each-and-every-time!  When will they learn that this can be just plain dangerous?

I just don’t get it…around my house trick or treat is a simple training protocol.  We dogs do a few tricks (roll-over is my particular favorite) and we get a treat!  Simple!  There is no “or” and there are certainly no scary creatures, costumes or door bells involved.

Halloween dogs

As for the treat; in my world bacon is best – plain and simple – no buts about it (although a little rump roast – mmm, mmm, good!)   One of these years, the guardians will wise up and make sure we don’t have access to that stuff they hand out to the two-legged puppies.  Not sure what all this paper-wrapped, sweet-smelling stuff is all about (being in a bowl on the steps, well that just makes it easy pickings).  It doesn’t do much for my digestive system and makes for lots of extra clean-up in the yard for days-on-end.

The other two dogs that share my home feel the same.  Sugar, she’s almost 7. Oh, the barking & ridiculous amount of energy she expends over a silly doorbell ringing!  Of course, she’s a scaredy-dog.  Running to the guardians closet at the slightest sound of thunder and acting all goofy when she sees another dog out on a walk (or squirrel, or leaf blowing the wrong way…you know the type).  Then there’s Chopper…another story entirely!  This one thinks the whole world is here simply to lavish attention on him (little does he know most people take one look and turn the other direction – but that’s another blog entirely).  When the doorbell rings, one quick dash and he’s gone, baby!  Born to run!   We’re working on some serious doorway manners with him.

So, what’s a dog (or his human) to do?  Well, a few things I’ve learned to maintain my dogosophical existence during this horrifying event the two-leggers call “Halloween”:

  • Don’t chew those sparkly things that are on a string & attach to the walls!  (They come out in December too and may be interesting to look at, but they feel like those horrible collars that ZAP some dogs when they get too close to their territory line).
  • Leave the candy alone!  That stuff can be like poison…literally!  Stay far away and stick to the bacon.
  • The bloody-carcass looking goodies – plastic!  Don’t even bother (one of those stuck in your intestines makes for a not-so-fun trip to the vet!)
  • Don’t eat the costume!  Some humans put these goofy get-ups on us dogs.  We’ve got to humor them now and again – and while the outfits can be a nuisance, it’s all about avoiding that trip to the vet!
  • Stay away from the door!  My guardians make sure we furry residents have a safe place all night long.  I go to my crate, Sugar spends the evening in her closet, and Chopper (who loves to be a social butterfly) is on leash all night long.  (They also make sure we have proper ID tags on, and are microchipped just in case one of us slips by them and darts out into the dark and scary night).

Keep those tips in mind and have a safe Halloween!

Dogosophically yours,   Dino