So Doggone Smart

Thursday, September 8, 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

This is not a dog blog.  which means, of course, this post is about dogs.

Recently i was having a conversation with a labradoodle owner.  And, not surprisingly, she said what i've heard many other dog owners say to me about their dogs.  It is always something like, "oh, my ______ is just sooo smart.  We thing its the labrador in her, but poodles are smart dogs as well."  Now i love the labradoodles--they are just plain cute and as a kid of allergies, its extremely hard to hate on hypoallergenic dogs--even designer ones. But i just don't know why a 'smart dog' is a thing.

So i laugh.  Cause I think its the most ridiculous thing ever.  

It's not that i don't understand what they're telling me.  I do.  I get what a 'smart dog' is.  They do tricks.  Maybe they even fetch your slippers if you wear slippers and if its a really smart dog.  I still don't care.  Because unless you are wheelchair bound or blind or otherwise impeded from retrieving your own slippers/shoes, all that is is a nifty way to move less.  It is a remote control for your shoes.

(*sidenote: service dogs who do all of these seemingly mundane tasks for their owners are, indeed, very smart and unbelievably amazing.  you should assume from here on out that service dogs are outside the realm of even poking fun at. cause they obviously rule.  in fact, i want to be a service dog when i grow up.  all this said, as i continue, i think you'll see that service animals fit into my sense of what makes a dog good, anyways. end sidenote*)

So your very smart dog knows what it's bed is and which toy is "bunny."  So smart.  Is he going to college?  Is she putting that intelligence to work getting scholarships? Are your pooches on the job market?  No.  Of course not.  Because, other than staying away from the road and remembering to eat, pee, and poop, dogs have very little need for intelligence.  In fact, i have it on some authority that a number of, what in the human world we would call "mentally challenged" dogs, live happy healthy amazing dog-lives with their families.   They run into walls and their family laughs and loves and life goes on. 

Because, for us humans, a dog's real job is to love us unconditionally.  To be a companion.  To show us the loyalty that fellow humans often falter at.  So if you tell me that your labradoodle is unendingly loyal to you.  Well now, that's tell me something.

I think an example of what im getting at may help illuminate my point.  let's take grover.  Grover, in general, sleeps in our bedroom at night.  He has a bed comprised of two comforters (one is so fluffy we call it "the marshmellow") laid on top of each other. Behind the comforters are two big file cabinets (the metal cabinets actually form the back boundary for the bed.  In front of his bed, is our bed.

To understand this story, you need to know that on school nights, mmf goes to bed a few hours before me.  She wakes up much earlier, so this makes sense.  Therefore, grover and i cruise into the bedroom in the low light of the hall lamp, and settle in.  On this night, as i am "tucking" grover into bed, my elbow hits the metal file cabinet drawer which makes a fairly loud noise (especially loud considering the hour and otherwise silent room).  Grover was solidly terrified and shot like a bullet up on the bed (where mmf was sleeping) and turned.

This is important.  This is relevant.  Was he scared?  Hell's yah!  But, in his fear of danger (the sky is falling!!!), he didn't bolt downstairs, he didn't go hide in his crate, he jumped in front of mmf and faced the threat.  I'm not saying that House of Pain was going to do anything (watch Swingers for the reference).  I mean, grover is not a fighter.  But he is loyal.  Deeply.  And he's wired to be at our side when shit goes down.  And that, i would argue, is more important than smarts or being able to jump through a tire.

Is grover a 'smart dog'?  Well . . . you tell me.

and yes, he did just pin his back paw down with his front paw to stabilize it for his face.

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