Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Higher Intelligence of Animals or Who Trains Who

Cassie, serious about my bribe of an anise pizzelle poses for a  picture!
Sometimes it seems that my animals understand nothing and other times they amaze me and demonstrate that they understand every word that I say and occasionally they let me know that they have a mind of their own and I am only here to serve them.

Cassie was but a pup when I had to be clear with my family, that I had issues  training her.   She is a lab/coon dog according to a cheek swab that determined her exact breed. We had "rescued" her from our local SPCA when she was only weeks old. She has a chest on her that seems more like that of a bull terrier breed,however, and when she was young the combination of her coon dog nose and her strength got the two of us into trouble!

I had taken her out for a walk, joining the two of us with a leash. She smelled a neighbor's cat and took out after it, forgetting that I was attached to her and we both ended up in my neighbor's yard with me still attached to her, my heels dug into the ground, and my bottom planted firmly on the ground at the base of a tree. My neighbors cat seemed to be laughing while perched in the tree looking down at the both of us, and my frail little neighbor offered to exercise Cassie for me, as I think inside she was laughing too. I can laugh about it now, though I soon learned that Cassie's training must include training me as well.

I immediately went out and got her a "Haltie" face mask to be able to safely manage her strength which surpassed my own. She has not tested me since with or without a "Haltie". She seems to watch out for my physical limits and is patient and slow with me now. This was only the beginning of her proving her high intelligence.

Cassie has a bed in the kitchen not far from the table.  She knows it is her place and she has been trained to stay in her bed and not beg while we are eating.  One night after dinner, as she sat quietly on her bed, I asked if she wanted to say something to say to us. On cue she started talking to us in "hound dog language". We have since tried to take up her language and she not only talks with us when spoken to, she even sings with us, howling on cue and in tune with us! We thought ourselves very clever and as one of my friend's so aptly wrote, we thought we spoke "dog" quite well.

Only recently she really let us know that her intelligence surpasses normal "dog intelligence". While my daughter and I were watching TV in living room, Cassie joined us.  I knew that she was there because my daughter was at home for the evening, and she had come to sit with her. She has always tolerated my company more than preferred it. She knows who loves her best but she also honors who brings home her treats, That night my husband had given her a rawhide chew and she had brought it with her to chew on as she sat with Hannah. It was near dog nirvana having her favorite person at home and a chew treat as well.  She knows, however that she is to chew her chew bones on her bed. I don't like the gummy goo that they leave on the carpet, though until that night, I had always figured that she simply obeyed the command "On your bed".

On this particular night, I didn't command her to take it to her bed in the kitchen, but rather spoke to her and told her that I knew that she wanted to be with Hannah, but that her chews made a mess on the rug and that is the reason I wanted her to take it to the kitchen to chew it.  With that she stood up, picked up her chew and headed toward the kitchen, or so I thought, but she simply moved her chew out of the way on the rug and then laid back down where she was and started licking the carpet...cleaning up the chew goo.  She then went to her chew bone and picked it back up to chew on again, and then repeated her actions of cleaning up her mess again. When my daughter left the room to go take a bath, Cassie took what was left of her chew to the kitchen to finish chewing it while on her bed. It is now clear to me that she has mastered human language more than the kids ever did, and certainly more than we have mastered speaking "dog"!

This reminded me of a school traffic guard I met while substituting at our local elementary school. We talked about people and animals, and though I remember little about the conversation, I will never forget her Vermont wit and wisdom as she said, "As my husband says, some people should be animals and some animals  should be people". I will refrain from commenting about the people part of this statement, but truly my dog, Cassie should have been a person!
Zeldies revenge....39 + holes!

Zeldie pushing me into re-designing quilts her way!

In this very same week, Zeldie, our cat has also taught me a very good lesson: to never accidentally shut her in my bedroom! She was so upset with me that she sought revenge by attacking the quilt on our bed! She bit 39 + holes in it with her teeth, forcing me to, once again, re-design a quilt, this time by  appliqueing  hearts over all the holes. She clearly is letting me know to not forget that I am here to serve her!  I might have to have a chat with Cassie about bobbing Zeldie's tail behind her ears!

Zeldie with an attitude!