The second dog in the family, Daisy, pictured above, knew how to ring the bell to go outside and fetch the newspaper. She could carry the smaller ones, weekday papers, in her mouth, but had to drag the large weekend papers.
If you have a dog or even just want to get a dog … this is the story for you. Dogs are complex beings with thoughts, feelings and emotions. Anyone who has owned a dog knows this to be true. It is thought that the canine brain has the intelligence roughly similar to that of a two-year-old human child. If you know a toddler and have chatted with them, you know that’s pretty impressive.
We were lucky to have two very smart poodles in our lives. Cindy, who was a miniature poodle, was our first dog. I had no idea how to housebreak her, thus we had a rough start. But then we learned that you could teach a dog to ring the bell to go out, so we installed a small cowbell about three inches from the floor, just next to the back door. For about two days we took the little dog’s paw and banged the bell saying, “Ring the bell to go out.” Then we would put her outside, wait for her to “go,” and bring her back in giving her a treat. At the end of the second day we were sitting there watching television and the bell rang. Oh my gosh, we were more than surprised. The training worked and that was her routine the rest of her life.
Our second poodle, Daisy, was also very intelligent. She not only rang the bell to go out, but also learned to bring our newspaper in. No, it wasn’t from the front porch. It was down a long driveway about 50 yards where it was delivered in a plastic bag. So, we went out, coaxed her to pick up the bag in her mouth and drag it. At first, she went a little way, then a little more and finally she reached our porch. In just a few days she was heading to the end of the driveway as we said, “Go get the paper!”
The smaller papers which were during the week, she could carry in her mouth. The large weekend one still required the dragging technique, because it was the same size she was.
Of course, there was always a treat involved. Once Daisy realized she got a treat for this job, she started to look for other work. Some days that would mean as many as three newspapers on our front porch … from our neighbors. In fact, one neighbor even came out and jokingly yelled, “Thief, thief, I see you’re taking my paper.” We had to quickly figure out whom those others belonged to and return them. We told her not to do that anymore. I truly believe she understood.
Some people think dogs are happy and that’s about it. But the pooches actually have a complex range of emotions. They can experience frustration and excitement, and some even mourn the loss of other family pets. Speaking of the happy part, Daisy made us happy and she was so revered in our house that even though she died about 18 years ago, we still think of her as a long-gone family member and talk about the impressive things she used to do.
There was nothing better than being gone from the house for about an hour, coming home and seeing Daisy so excited to see us. If we were gone for a week, when we walked in the door she couldn’t wait to jump in our arms and everything wiggled from her nose to the tip of her tail. It’s wonderful to think that you can make another living being so happy just by your presence.
Some studies have shown dogs can even lower blood pressure. Petting a dog is just about the most soothing thing ever. But when you do that, it may not only lower your blood pressure, but also lower your heart rate and decrease stress levels. That’s why dogs are now welcomed in many senior living facilities.
Dogs not only love humans, but they also love other animals and actually have best friends. Our Daisy had a sister named Liza. They had been separated from the time they were about six weeks old. Liza lived in a home near ours, actually about two football fields away. In our area, dogs could pretty much roam around without a leash and every once in a while Liza would appear in our front yard. When Daisy saw her, she began that wiggling happy thing again – everything from her nose to her tail – and bark to go out. The two dogs would jump on each other and run in circles. Then eventually Liza would just go home and we would wait for the next time she would appear and the same thing would happen. Somehow, they sure knew each other.
Dogs are good at learning what humans mean. Estimates are that most dogs understand about 50 human words. The really bright ones have proven to comprehend over 1,000 words. So keep talking to your dog – they know what you mean.
Here are a few reasons it’s good to be a dog. If it itches, you can scratch it … even in public. No one notices or cares if you have hair growing in some weird places as you get older. You don’t need fancy entertainment systems if you’ve got a bone. You can spend all day sleeping, if you want. And my favorite … it doesn’t take much to make you happy. You’re excited to see the same people day after day. All they have to do is leave the room for five minutes and come back again, and you’re happy.
My favorite funny story is about the talking dog – A man decides to take his dog to a talent agency because he swears his dog can talk. The talent agent decides to interview the dog and it goes like this: Agent – “What’s on the top of your house?” Dog – “roof.” Agent – “What’s the outer layer of a tree?” Dog – “Bark.” Agent – “Who was the greatest baseball player?” Dog – “Ruth.”
The agent exclaims, “This is ridiculous,” and sends them away. When they get outside, the dog looks up at his owner and says, “What? Should I have said DiMaggio?”
And here’s one more lesson you can learn from your dog – no matter what life brings you, kick some grass over that stuff and move on.
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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