Smart dogs do for themselves

August 21, 2013
Smart dogs learn fast

His Highness, Riley the Invincible, wants to come in after sunbathing

We bought a nifty new retractable screen door for the French doors off our patio, recently. Not only do they retract smoothly, but because we bought one that cuts the hot glare of sun by at least half, our family room stays a lot cooler. That’s Little He’s room and he really appreciates that part of it. At age 15, our hound-shepherd mix spends a lot of time reclining in his comfy bed in the corner near that door. If he’s not on the other side of the room relaxed on his “couch.”

Riley, on the other hand, enjoys sunbathing on the back step.

One of the ingenious features of this nifty, super-magnetized screen is that you can’t destroy it, even if you walk through it. The door simply retracts slowly and the screen puts itself back together. The guy in San Jose who invented it installed it for us — a seriously great engineer with a fabulous product.

It took the dogs exactly one minute to figure out if they pushed on the door it would open itself. One minute. Seriously.  How do dogs learn? Apparently, easily. So now, they let themselves in and out to potty at will. I’m not super-pleased at that during high-mosquito periods, given that West Nile has been found fairly near by. But I do love the fact that our dogs are brainy.

We know Riley’s a brainiac, a smart dog,  but we’ve always underestimated Little He. He’s pretty low key and, in the days when he was #4 dog, he was definitely low dog on the totem pole. Now that it’s just the two of them, he’s taken on Riley as his charge. If we’re on a walk and a strange dog approaches, Riley will bark his tiny butt off. Little He’s hackles go up and he puts himself between Riley and “danger.”

The other day, Riley started barking and tried to lunge at a massive dog across the street. Little He jumped in, pushed Riley out of the way and then turned and gave him a look that clearly said “Are you fuck ing crazy??” It was hard not to laugh. So we did.  Dogs are smart.

In the back yard one day we saw Riley disappear around the corner and Little He followed. We then saw Riley being pushed toward us by Little He. When we walked out to see why, we saw that part of our fence had been downed by high winds and the yard was exposed to the street, just a block from a busy road. Little He was pushing Riley out of harm’s way. Yep.  We’ve read about things like that, but seeing it in action was another thing entirely.

Anyway, yesterday Riley had finished sunbathing and wanted to come in. He stood at the screen door whining and squeakling. (Squeakling is a term M. coined for the annoying noise Ri  makes halfway between a squeak and a whine.)

M. didn’t move fast enough. Little He, who had been napping in his bed, gave a big groan, got his old bones out of bed, walked over to the door, hit it with his nose so it would open for Riley, and went back to bed.

Dumb creatures? I think not.

*Ok, listen up.  Leave a comment below on the blog and be entered in a drawing for either a package of made-in-the-USA doggie goodies from our boys’ latest Barkbox OR a beauty item. In your comment, let me know which you prefer. This was Riley’s idea, of course!

8 comments on “Smart dogs do for themselves
  1. Haralee says:

    I love that the big guy groaned and then got up to let him in for the love of God you just can’t let him stay out their with that noise for Pete’s Sake! No I wasn’t in your house but I know how it goes and I interpret dog.

  2. You tell a damn fine dog story, Missy.

    And your intelligent, sweet dogs are clearly out of the top drawer.

  3. Michele says:

    Hats off to Little He for taking care of his little brother Riley! He is the epitomy of what a big brother is!
    Never underestimate the intelligence of dogs ! My dog amazes me everyday with something he does ….Thank goodness for our loyal companions ……..

  4. Is Riley a shih-tzu?

    My friend Anne has a dog named Molly that is smart enough to put the other dogs out when they are bugging her. She wants to nap, they want to play. So she’ll get them all riled up and then ring the bell at the door. Anne then opens the door…and Molly goes back to bed, unmolested.

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  1. Blog Carnival V8 - The Indie Chicks says:

    […] Daily Inspiration for Creating Our Best Lives: Smart dogs do for themselves – When my elderly dog saved my little dogs life, more than once, I realized that they’re more like us than not…not “dumb creatures” at all. […]

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