Smart Dog

frankI’ve heard it said that the most recent and largest expansion of the human brain is the part that helps us get along in groups. And anyone that has been to school, or been out in the workplace knows how complicated this web of interactions can be. Clearly, those that are the best at navigating this rough social terrain are the most successful among us.

Dogs are social critters too, and sometimes our dog amazes us with his ability to navigate the wind shifts in our family. For example, Franco has the run of the downstairs from the kitchen through the livingroom, and down into the basement. He must NOT, however set a paw on the steps that lead to our addition (we call it the green room), or come upstairs. Ever. And he may not get up on any of the furniture… sort of.

Ever since some friends visited a few years ago with their dog, Franco has sought to bend the green room and furniture rules. Our friend’s dog, who has no such prohibitions at her home, jumped up on the couch while we were visiting. I remember (possibly with some dramatization mixed in) Franco looking at this dog on the couch, then at us, then back at the dog, and waiting for World War III to break out. She was told to get down, and she did, but the life as we know it did not end. This event, we feel, affected Franco profoundly.

We often leave Franco in the house when we make trips of several hours, and when we’d come back, we’d sometimes see a suspicious dog shaped bump on the formerly pristine couch. I’d look quizzically at Franco and telepathically ask him how this dent might have gotten there. “Beat’s me,” he’d think back to me, staring at me with those big beautiful innocent eyes. This went on for some time.

Occasionally I’d catch him in the act when I’d come downstairs in the night. He’d be asleep in the green room or on the couch, and he’d hear me coming just in time, jump down (THUMP!) and stand there looking at me as nonchalantly as he could. “I think he suspects,” I could hear him thinking. Yes I did. “Shame on you!” I’d say to him. “Yes, shame on me for getting caught,” he’d beam back.

A couple of days ago, we did our annual rental of one of those heavy duty rug shampooers with the upholstery attachment. We did all the rugs and the furniture, including the couch. Alice and I talked it over, knew when we were licked, and put Franco’s blue rug on the couch, centered in the place he almost always would lay. You win Franco.

That same night I came downstairs for something after the house was asleep, and there was Franco, curled up and asleep on his newly delineated territory. This time he did not jump down when I came down. I’m sure he heard me, but didn’t bother acknowledging my approach. He’d used his social brain to figure out that this particular game belonged to him, and he needn’t budge from his rightful throne. You are one smart dog, Franco.

6 Responses to “Smart Dog”

  1. Mel says:

    We’re sorry! (Daisy says “you’re welcome” to Franco.)

  2. Ryan says:

    We kept Daisy off the furniture while I was working at home. Once I started working away from home, she would go on the couch when no one was around around. Since that made it pretty much impossible to be consistent the prohibition became more or less meaningless.

    I try to avoid Daisy learning ‘Don’t do X when I can be seen’ vs ‘Don’t do X.’

    Her shock collar actually originated so that we could spy on her through the windows and teach her ‘don’t dig’ instead of ‘don’t dig when somebody is outside to catch you.’

    Never came up with a good solution to her going up on the furniture when we weren’t home that wasn’t more work that it was worth.

    • Ryan says:

      Instead we’ve had to settle for ‘will get off the furniture if told’ and usually doesn’t go back up anytime soon.

  3. Patty says:

    Another winning story and food for thought about the social aspect of our lives! I’m finding that being around people less and living out in the “Country” has made me kinda weird; or more so if that’s possible!!!!😉

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