Trust me, it’s not political, keep reading.
There is a great debate in the Hag’s house whether our much-loved canine cohort is, indeed, dumb.
There is evidence to support this theory. She hasn’t learned to open doors, like one of our other dogs did. She is deathly afraid of odd things, like paper bags, the freezer and sneezes. I have watched her spend an inordinate amount of time in the living room, stalking a stray sock (which she had brought in from the laundry room a few minutes earlier) then jumping three feet in the air as she pawed it and it moved.
She consistently scares herself as she vigorously wags her long tail and knocks everything over in its path. And chasing said tail never gets old. She has no idea how delicious treats from a people dinner sometimes magically appear in her food bowl. She never met a stranger, and would jump up and wildly lick Satan himself, should he wish to drop by for a visit.
Her excursions to the dog park consist mostly of running up to a dog, getting scared, and running back to me.
And she will eat anything, including plastic Easter eggs and shoe inserts.
Many of these oddities probably can be attributed to her rough start. She was abandoned in the country, like so many puppies, and rescued when she was about eight weeks old. No one is sure how long she managed on her own. We got her about four weeks later, and she was still frighteningly skinny (not only her ribs sticking out, but her hip bones, as well) full of worms, ear infections and skin problems. The first few weeks, we took her on small walks, and she kept her tail tucked at all times, warily eyeing the scenery.
She eventually thrived, and now is probably one of the most adored and spoiled princesses in the history of doggie love.
But I contend the girl is smart …. very smart. Or at least, her language skills are amazing.
There are many words she understands, such as all of the usual commands, most of which she will follow, if she feels like it and is not too excited.
She knows other things, as well. If you say the word “bath” to her, she will lower her head and ears, tuck her tail and run out of the room; a useful tool at times.
She also gets very excited every time she sees me put on tennis shoes, or a baseball hat. To her, this means the hallowed walk is about to commence, and she proceeds to leap into the air with joy. I started telling her, “No, I’m going to the gym,” when I was, in actuality, dressed for a walk but indeed going to the gym. Within a week, she knew “going to the gym” was a terrible thing, and would abruptly end her happy dance, give me a disappointed/death to you look and walk away. We now use “going to the gym” anytime we are going out, and she is not invited. She’s not happy, and it works!
She also knows weird and random things, like “Let’s go check the mail,” which prompts her to run to the mailbox.
We are also a musical family, known to break out into song at least daily. I made up my own tune for going to the dog park, with riveting lyrics, including and limited to: “We’re going to the dog park, going to the dog park, going to the dog park, going to the do o o o o gie park.” When I sing it she runs and gets her collar, then out to my car she goes.
As this is the limit of my songwriting skills, I picked another song to denote dog walks. I reached into my favorite Broadway bag and pulled out an appropriate tune from West Side Story… “Something’s Coming.” For those of you who are not former choir nerds or musical fans, the pertinent lyrics include “Could it be? Yes it could, something’s coming, something good …” I can sing it to her, or have Alexa (Excedrin? Alexandra? Alecia?) play it, the results are the same, she knows, she is excited, she runs to grab her collar and sits by the front door.
As an experiment, as I am only working sporadically right now and have a lot of free time on my hands, I tried just humming or whistling the tune to see if she recognized music. Nope, she needs the words.
As final proof of the genius level of my dog, I give you this snippet. Lily’s first Christmas, a nephew was experimenting with her obedience skills. “Sit!” Check. “Stay!” Check. “Shake!” Check. “Lay down.” Nothing. “Lay down.” Again, nothing. I walked by and said, “Lie down!” and she promptly did. Is there any dog more suited to be my constant companion? I think not.