Rating the intelligence of dogs has become a popular game among owners ever since that smart ass German-born Border Collie name Rico proved to have a working vocabulary of 200 words. My late dog Jake, a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd was like twice as smart as Rico and he spoke several languages which is how, when he became thoroughly annoyed with that dog’s fame, he told the dog to “go sit on a fire plug” … in German. (He also spread the rumour among other dogs that Rico used the word ‘irregardless’ a lot.)
Everybody thinks their dog is the smartest dog on the planet, which is why intelligence games and toys are big sellers at a certain chain of stores that is for very good reason, not called PetStupid.
The average owner always believes his or her dog is a lot smarter than say, the neighbour’s dog. Naturally, the average owner also believes he or she is smarter than the neighbour. I was certain my dog was smarter than “Goofy” next door who developed a habit of chasing parked cars.
One friend claimed that when they watched TV together, her dog would start growling even before the ad with the talking dog came on. I didn’t’ have the nerve to tell her that Jake knew I got mad whenever he growled so he would use the remote to turn the TV off as soon as that ad came on.
Another friend said his dog was so smart he’d come to him with his leash in his mouth whenever he wanted to go for a walk. The guy was so excited I decided not to tell him that Jake also did that, but on days when he was a tad tired he’d come and drop the car keys at my feet.
My dog was so smart that one evening he sat in on my weekly poker game when one of the guys called in sick. Jake won five pots in a row until the other players figured out he couldn’t “bluff”. A bit of a giveaway, every time Jake was dealt a good hand … he wagged his tail. Some people brag about how their dog brings the paper in from the driveway. Jake would bring it, open it and read the baseball box scores to me.
Okay, that stuff I made up, but one summer I happen to be in Portugal for a few weeks while my friends Dutchy and Edith Doerr stayed here at my cottage to dog sit Jake. They had their two grandkids up for a weekend and they immediately fell in love with Jake because he was also the most handsome dog in the world. Was too! Was too!
“We went down on the beach and the kids were throwing a stick out into the lake and Jake would swim out and bring it back,” remembered Dutchy. (I could just hear Jake’s’ teeth grinding as he said to himself: “Stupid fetch! I’m going to bite Bill right in the ass for this as soon as he gets home!”)
“The kids were having a great time, but then the wind came up and with the waves, they couldn’t see where the stick landed in the water,” said Dutchy. (‘They, of course did not include my dog!)
“So we’re all standing at the shoreline looking for the stick when – honestly Bill, Edith and I couldn’t believe it! – Jake ran up the stairs to the top of the break-wall and from that angle, he spotted the stick! Then he trotted back down the beach, swam out, brought back the stick and dropped it at their feet. Then went up to the house for a nap.”
Said Dutchy: “Honestly Bill, even the grandkids couldn’t figure that one out!”
So yeah, my dog Jake was smarter than a pair of grandparents, two fifth graders and host Jeff Foxworthy as well. No sorry, my dog Jake was a freakin’ genius irregardless of what you or your dog might think.
For comments and ideas, or a copy of The Legend of Zippy Chippy,
go to www.williamthomas.ca