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Thursday, January 14, 2010

smart dog!

I love my dogs. Anybody who knows me knows that. But sometimes Maxim is so smart he startles me! In the last few days we have had two incidents that show how bright he is. Not just smart but able to figure things out in his brown furry head.

I’ve talked a lot about the little dogs and their coats. The coats have Velcro strips across the chest and around the girth bands. You overlap the strips and it is very secure—unless you don’t get the strips lined up. Then the little hooks catch in the ‘suede’ and hold for a bit but aren’t very secure. With much activity at all the strips come loose and the little busy body walks right out of the coat.

Yesterday or the day before, Sebastian was out tearing round with the big dogs, being all macho, and when he came in his coat was gone. It was lying out in the middle of the yard abandoned. Rachael was busy when she let the dogs and said she would have to go back when she finished whatever it was she was doing. A few minutes later she got her shoes and jacket and prepared to trek across the snow covered yard after the coat.

Then Maxim came bouncing up, all bright eyed and enthusiastic. Just on a whim, Rachael called him and told him to go get Sebastian’s coat. Maxim indicated his willingness by bouncing a little more. When a chocolate Lab bounces it is something to see.

Rach bent over and took his big head in her hands and said, “Look at me.” Sometimes you have to help him focus. “Go get Sebastian’s coat. Out there.” She let go of his head and pointed.

Maxim turned around looked across the yard and went directly to the coat. He picked it up and brought it straight to her! Of course we squealed like a couple school girls and patted him and told him how great he is and how smart he is. And he pranced around all proud of himself.

Now I know he responded to her pointing and saying “Go get. . . ,” but he still had to figure out what it was she wanted. He’d never heard the word ‘coat’ in relation to anything- never mind to Sebastian and seeing it lying in the middle of the yard. It required a little bit of cogitation on his part.

Now today, he demonstrated his brain-power again. One of his favorite jobs is picking up the little dogs’ dishes in the evening after they have finished eating. At first he was just entertaining himself, but when we called him to bring them to us and praised him for doing it, he decided it was His Job to clean up after the little dogs. He does it every evening. One night when I fell asleep in my chair and R & M put him in with me while they ran an errand, I woke up to find one of the bowls on my lap. Evidently he’d tried to give it to me but I was too stupid to wake up and take it so he put it on my lap!

Today while Rachael was cleaning up after lunch one of us said something about the little dogs’ dishes. I told Rachael they were still in My Room but to see if Maxim would go get them. Now this was a Biggie. He gets them regularly but they are always in line of sight, never around the corner and down the hall.

First Rachael tried just sending him after them. Well, the first time he brought her his ball. Yes, it was from the bedroom and it did start with a B, but it wasn’t a bowl. He started off again and came back with her shoe! By this time Sebastian was tearing around barking and jumping and carrying on.

Then she called Maxim and took a plastic bowl out of the dishwasher—she’d been loading the dirty dishes. She showed Maxim the bowl and let him strck his nose in it and told him to go get the bowls. She pointed down the hall and he was off! Back in a minute with one bowl.

She sent him back after the second. More distraction from Sebastian. She corralled Sebastian and gave him to me to hold. Again she sent him after the other bowl, pointing down the hall. Gable’s bowl is metal and I wondered if he’d figure it out. Not a problem, he came back with the second bowl, too. Of course he was terribly proud of himself. He earned treats for everybody, even Mika and Gable who hadn’t done anything at all and the One who had interfered.

I sometimes wonder if he is telepathic. My old Aspen could do the same thing—perform tasks on a minimum number of clues. Maxim is younger and more easily distracted, but he is learning. Keeping Gable and Sebastian from bugging him helps. It is hard to concentrate when someone one-fifth your size is jumping around and on you and nipping at you jugular.

Tell me how smart your dog is… I’ll match it with mine!

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