If you decide to get a new dog as a pet, be ready to go through a phase where you spend a lot of your time petting and stroking it and saying “Yesss!
That’s a GOOD dog and otherwise praising it like it just won the Pulitzer Prize for an achievement like not pooping on the living room rug.
I remember back years ago when I got a pure bread Alaskan Malamute puppy that I named Keema. Keema like most dogs would listen intently to what ever you were saying and then give you this look that says, “My God, you’re right! I never would have thought of that!”
So after a while we come to think of dogs as being loyal and loving and even entertaining to the point we don’t notice that they spend the bulk of their time circling around with other dogs to see which one can sniff the other the most times in the nether regions.
Early on I wasn’t sure whether Keema had a working brain. You can’t tell at first with dogs. She would sit in the yard looking very sharp and alert and a squirrel would scurry right past her, a squirrel whose presence was instantly detected by the neighborhood dogs hundreds of yards away to bark loudly and causing us to yell helpfully: “Look! Keema! A squirrel!”
After a few seconds of delay, her nervous system would send a message via Parcel Post to her brain indicating something was happening. Keema would turn in the exact opposite direction from whichever way the squirrel was, and adopt a pose of great readiness and go: “What?”
The deciding point for me was when I gave Keema the true dog intelligence test, wherein you show your dog a ball then put the ball under a blanket and then see if it can find the ball. Keema, I regret to say, couldn’t find the ball.
My boss had the only dog that was even more life challenged than Keema.
This dog was a pure bread Collie named Shawna. Forget the ball trick Shawna couldn’t even find the blanket.
Shawna looked the part of an intelligent canine however, partly I suppose because I grew up watching the TV show Lassie. Lassie was a brilliant animal that lived with a farm family made up of idiots. One of the family members was always in peril, getting stuck in quicksand, pinned underneath a tractor or trapped after falling down a well.
This beautiful, perfectly groomed dog would rush back to the farmhouse to alert rest of the family. She would tug at their sleeves, and they’d waste precious time saying things like:
“What’s wrong girl?”
“Do you think she wants us to follow her?” as if this had never happened before, instead of every week. What with all the time these people spent in life threatening situations I don’t see how they managed to grow any crops whatsoever.
They probably had to have Lassie fill out forms for federal crop support.
But, back to Shawna, the anti-Lassie so to speak. Shawna would not even notice us when my boss and I would walk into his house, sometimes up to a half hour. When she finally did notice us, she would bark like the Manson gang had just burst in.
Despite all they’re flaws, I have always loved all my dogs and the companionship they provide. In fact I’m dog-sitting Shawna right now, but the truth remains she can’t be very intelligent because I’m writing a fairly insulting column about her, and even though she’s lying right at my feet, it hasn’t occurred to her to pull the plug on my comput- ...