Thursday, July 5, 2012

Outsmarting Mr. Furkins

For as often as I refer to Oscar as a dumb dog or "stupid Mr. Furkins" he's really not a dumb dog in terms of intellect.  He is a stupid dog that does dumb dog things that irritate me, but he's a smart stupid dog.

I don't wear shoes in the house, so when he sees me put shoes on he knows I must be leaving and will go into his crate so someone can lock him in.  Same scenario if I pull out the keys to my car.  He just knows the drill and saves me the trouble of having to yell "Crate!"

I can tell him to "go to the bathroom," and he will run out into the back yard and take care of business.  If I tell him he smells, he will walk away from me.  He will also leave the room if I sternly say "out."

Bryan, who has lived with dogs his whole life, says he's amazed at how many words and phrases he understands.  He's even more amazed by the dogs ability to distinguish between regular clothing and bathing suits.

Oscar is a nervous Nellie and pain in the rear when it comes to the pool.  If he sees us in bathing suits he's instantly excited and wants to go out to the pool, too.  When he's denied access, he will bark and carry on from the moment we head out until we're back inside.  It's annoying and it makes the prospect of going swimming while Katie naps impossible.

Last week I decided that I would start spelling pool since he knows the word and what it means.  I told the girls that we were going to go in the P-O-O-L while Katie napped and we would have to take Oscar down to Bryan's office in the basement.  Spelling worked, and he was content to hang with Bryan in the office while we swam.

This past weekend we realized that spelling it out didn't do much when he started barking right away as soon as we took he down to an empty office.  Then Bryan got the genius idea of telling the girls that we were going to the store.  Oscar knows what that means--time to go in his crate!  I didn't think it would work since he would still see us in bathing suits so Bryan tossed a blanket over the front of his crate so he couldn't see us.  To further convince the dog that we were really going out, we exited through the garage and closed the garage door behind us.

I'll be honest, I never thought Oscar would buy it, but he has.  What amazes me is the dog is aware that we're "leaving Katie behind" and doesn't seem to find that very odd.  He was whimpering one afternoon when Bryan came back in the house for something, but not enough to disturb Katie's nap.

We don't want him to catch on to the "going to the store" ruse, so we changed it to "going to the library" a couple days ago.  The problem with "going to the store" is Madeline and Ellie have gotten confused a few times.  They know we almost never go to the library, so it's easier to convey the message that we mean "let's go swimming" and not what we're actually saying.

When I think about it, it's actually quite comical the lengths we have to go to in order to trick the dog.

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