Friday, January 6, 2012

Workin' It

Trust me.
We are always bragging about how smart our dog Bailey is, but I never considered he was smart enough to learn the art of manipulation. Now I'm starting to wonder.

Little Flash was used to having his own way at his old place, and he knew how to make it happen. Bailey, on the other hand, had always been the 'textbook' pet: well-trained, smart, easy to teach and unconditionally loving. He knew what we expected of him and always gave his best and his all.

But since Flash and Bailey have started hanging out, Bailey seems to be picking up new tricks. Last month, he was starting to whine every two hours to go out, whereas four outings a day used to be enough for him. He made it sound as if he just couldn't hold it, to the point that we had him tested for a bladder infection. But the vet said he was perfectly fine. Once we started telling Bailey to be quiet and stopped letting him out every time he complained, he seemed to recognize we were on to him. The all-day whining stopped.

This week, he's been limping around on his front paw, as if he's pulled a muscle or maybe is struggling with the cold and arthritis. We've been paying him extra attention, catering to his disability and giving him lots of love because we feel bad he's hurting. Strangely, as soon as we go outside, he is running, jumping, pulling on the leash with his mouth and doing his 'happy bus dance' every morning and afternoon: there's no sign of pain or injury. But later when we are all inside, he will sit at the bottom of the stairs and moan when no one is downstairs with him, rather than  coming up to join us. When we call to him, he stares up at us as if he couldn't possibly climb all those stairs with his now-sore-again paw. As if we should come down and cuddle with him in front of the TV to prove that we really love him.

I don't know which behavior to believe is the truth anymore. How he has figured out how to get what he wants from us is a mystery. But Bailey is a smart dog, and I wouldn't put it past him to be playing us. If nothing else, this is good practice for when my kids start doing it.


Karen Hug-Nagy said...

I can believe it, my Border Collie plays us all the time. They are so smart. She runs to the door like she has to go out and then when we get up from the dinner table to let her out, she rushes back to the table to steal the food!

Snowbrush said...

This is the kind of experience that makes a person wonder if he or she wouldn't be better with a dog that isn't terribly intelligent. After all, intelligence in a housepet has a lot of downsides and not many upsides because no matter how smart a dog is, he's still not going to be able to balance your checkbook or perform other useful tasks.