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Friday, March 7, 2014

How My Old Dog Teaches Me New Tricks

     I am owner to the smartest dog in the world. All good dog owners feel this way, I suppose, but I really am. I have a border collie, you see—well, actually she’s a mutt, but she has a lot of border collie traits. I’ve read that they are the smartest breed of dog and I agree. The test of a dog's intelligence is hiding a treat under a blanket. Most dogs won't know what to do. They know there's a treat under there, but they don't know how to get to it. The border collie nudges the blanket aside and plows her nose along the ground until she finds the treat. She passes this IQ test with flying colors every time. 
     Our first dog was a Labrador. We thought she was the smartest dog in the world too. Now I realize that we just loved her so much we projected an intelligence upon her that might not have been deserved. She was more goofy, loyal and lovable than smart—but still a good dog.
     Anyway, Riley (the border collie) is the kind of dog that looks at you when you’re speaking, either to her or to yourself, and you’d swear by her expression that she gets it. One day I wouldn’t be surprised if she started talking back (not in a sassy way, but like a treasured girlfriend). She is the inspiration behind a character in the middle grade book I’ve decided to work on next. It is the first book I ever wrote and is in dire need of a rewrite. I love it, and I hope someone else will too, in six months or so. That's when it will probably be ready for eyes besides mine--and perhaps Riley’s. (Surely she'll be able to read by then.)
     Another way I can tell my dog is smart is by the way she responds to being stuck out on her line. Sometimes her leash gets caught up on a bush, a root, or a section of decking. In this weather it’s very possible for it to become wrapped around a gargantuan block of ice. This morning I heard her barking and thought: what is she caught on now? By the time I had tracked down my boots and zipped into my coat, she appeared at the door, tail wagging. Business as usual. It occurred to me that many times Riley gets out of her situation without any intervention from me—and that’s exactly what had happened this time. She had tugged and tugged at the line until it gave. She knows that this method worked before. Because of this, she  figures there’s a good chance it will work again. She doesn’t give up. See what I mean? Smart.
     Today, I’m grateful for my genius dog, who’s smart enough to teach her old owner a new trick. Riley is the very model of perseverance. Have a great weekend!


9 comments:

  1. Riley sounds like a great dog. I'm really glad you have her. Our dog's name is Elliott and he's one of the main characters in 2 of my children's books!
    Have a great weekend.

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  2. I've heard that border collies are super intelligent. Someone I knew had one, and she was a really smart and enthusiastic dog. I'm glad you take such joy in yours. :)

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  3. Riley sounds like an awesome dog--and she's adorable to boot! A winning combination :)

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  4. Thanks for stopping by, everyone! Riley brightens our lives to no end!

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  5. Nothing like a dog for teaching much needed life lessons, and they never get the least bit preachy about it.

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    1. You're totally right! That must be why we love them so!

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  6. Your dog sounds like a real special friend, and smart too! That's very cool indeed.

    MJ, A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    Writing Tips
    Effectively Human
    Lots of Crochet Stitches


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  7. We adopted a border collie last fall and they ARE smart dogs....and those eyes see everything! :)

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    1. They have lovely eyes! Ours has a deep brown, almost black, and so intelligent. Like they can see straight into your soul.

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