Do you remember the scene in MY FAIR LADY where Professor Henry Higgins, who has been working with brazen young Eliza Doolittle to learn, among other things, proper diction in the belief that it will bump her up several notches in the Victorian Age of England? And they’re doing that RAIN IN SPAIN song and he finally shouts out,
By George, she’s got it!
And then, well, suddenly the epiphany of proper speech propels our Eliza onward and upward into grand adventures culminating in an open ended finale that exudes hope and personal growth to my mind, but I digress.
Among the many things I speak to my clients about, one aspect of training I consider very important: STRUCTURE. And by that I mean the schedule or routine of a dog from day to night or day to day or weekday to weekend or season to season or year to year or school year to summer vacation, etc.
And I explain that as dogs spend time with us, they are not so much hearing the “talking the talk” (although we want them to) but are much more aware of and observant of how we “walk the walk.” And they often know before us what we’re going to do. For those of us, admittedly like myself, who are easily distracted and have gobs of multi taskings to perform on a regular basis in order to keep it all together, dogs uncanny ability to do these psychic exercises NEVER fails to boggle my mind. (if anyone is interested in a copy of a story I wrote about my first dog, Teisha, called Teisha The Wonder Dog all about her secret life when I lived in Los Angeles in the 80’s, email me to firstname.lastname@example.org privately and I’ll send you a copy.)
I’m well aware that at some point in a series of behaviors I do in front of my dogs there comes that instant where they know that my getting ready to go out will or will not include them without me saying a word BUT going through actions that suggest my ultimate course. I know the approximate instant it happens, but I’m still flabbergasted, impressed, amazed and befuddled as to HOW DO THEY DO THAT?
Almost always Trip, my irrepressible JRT, is the first to absolutely know my intentions. He’s like the advance party in a raid. In him, the manifestations are increased excitability when he has gleaned It’s About Me (I always think when he’s excited he thinks with all capital letters starting his thought bubbles!). On the other hand, when he knows it’s not “About Me”, he lays on any number of dog beds and looks at me soulfully.
Bean, my contemplative springer, who I’m sure I’ve hinted at in previous posts is not the sharpest pencil in the pack, is a being I adore more than I can say. At 5 years old he is loyal, he is true, he is plucky and stoic, and I am so grateful for his presence in my life.
Okay, so, today even that la di da boy read my mind. I don’t know how he did it. I implore you out there, if you have cracked the magic black hole of psychic power, please please please share it with me! I’m dying to know. In case I don’t get a response, I’ll continue on my endless quest to achieve that awareness.
Here are the facts:
Usually if I’m going up and downstairs Bean is as likely to follow me or not, but always will come if I call him. Today after a long and muddy walk, I decided it was finally time to give the scruffy boy a bath. I started upstairs with the intent to do it, and he didn’t come. But within a few minutes I was distracted to water a plant and a few other things and he came up on his own, watching me more intently than normal, and that’s saying a lot. I went downstairs, did stuff, remembered the bath, and went back up with the intent to bathe him. I SAID NOTHING. I DID NOTHING DIFFERENT. HONEST. It was only my intent AND my follow through. But I was up there and Trip was following me around in a fascinated sort of way. Bean didn’t follow us up. I was deliberately walking around different bedrooms and thought to see how long it would take him to come. But I heard no evidence so then I called him. The boy with almost fully reliable recall. I called him cheerfully. NOTHING. Gasp! I knew he now knew, for sure, it would happen. I’m pretty sure Trip gave it away, but even if that’s so, how did Bean pick it up? He’s not that smart. That’s the nut I want to crack.
BTW, I did finally get him up and rubbed him up as a bridging exercise for a few minutes before then going to the bath. Which, by the way, once he’s in the tub, he’s completely cooperative and a pleasure to bathe. And now he smells oh so much better!
All right, I’ll stop now and await she or he out there who has the secret to that conundrum!