Thursday, May 26, 2016

A dog story

Because writing about frontal lobe injuries and executive function remediation research isn't terribly interesting (well, it is to me, but I'm going with it's not likely to be interesting to the general public), I will tell you a Kenzie story instead.

Kenzie loves me. And since I love Kenzie, that's very gratifying. Except that when I'm around, Kenzie has got it in his head that I am the only one who understands him. I will be in another part of the house (or in bed, asleep) and he will come and nose my hand. Thinking he wants some attention, I will pet him and tell him what a good boy he is. (And he is.) But then, he continues to nose my hand, and this quickly escalates to him doing little hops on his front legs and barking. Have you ever seen a dog movie and the dog is desperately trying to get the person to follow him because, "Timmy is in trouble!" It's just like that. I eventually clue in and get up to follow him. He is happy, though a little wary that I might get distracted and keeps checking back with me and giving me encouraging little barks to keep me moving. He leads me all the way to the back door and then looks at it, wagging his tail happily that he has finally brought me to where he wants. I let him out and he runs out the door.

This would all be terribly endearing if not for the fact that there are usually no less than three people sitting in the kitchen within sight of the back door every single time this happens. I'm not sure the problem lies more with the people or with the dog, but I think the solution is a bell to hang by the door.

With our first dog, a Bouvier des Flandres names Simone, we trained her to ring a bell whenever she wanted to go outside. She quickly caught on and would happily ring the bell whenever the whim struck her to go for a walk. This would have been grand except that we lived in a third floor walk-up and didn't have a fenced yard for her. Sometimes we would come upstairs and within five minutes she would ring the bell to go out again. Eventually the bell lived on top of the refrigerator where she couldn't reach it and we checked the box, 'humans trained.'

With Gretel, dear dog though she was, we were quite sure that ringing the bell to communicate what was going on inside her fuzzy head was a non-starter and never tried, but Kenzie seems to be a different story. When we were visiting my friend a couple of weeks ago, she had a bell by her door. After a while, Kenzie went purposefully over to it, rang it with his nose, and waited. Of course we took him out. (And by 'we', I mean I asked P. to.) He obviously knows what a bell is for and maybe, just maybe, other people in the house can learn what it is for as well, and I can stop having to rescue Timmy.

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