Oct 31, 201801:01 PMBlog

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Smart Dog

Smart Dog

My dog Ellie has destroyed four pairs of prescription glasses in less than two years. I don’t know what the allure is. I expect they taste awful. Even to a dog. I think she does it to alleviate the occasional  boredom. I don’t believe it’s out of spite. However, when she steals pens from my desk, which she is way, way into double digits, I know she’s feeling neglected. So it’s hard to get too angry with her. Fortunately, she hasn’t ingested any ink or small parts.


When we were choosing puppies we decided that we wanted a “smart” dog because, well, we think of ourselves as smart people. And Aussie Shepherds and Poodles, which is her pedigree, are amongst the cleverest of breeds. Having a thoughtful, trainable dog is mostly great. She does lots of cool tricks, some of which we didn’t even teach her. For example, she taps her metal water dish so that it “tings” when she’s thirsty. It’s kind of a reverse-Pavlovian response.


She’s also figured out how to open doors with handles from both sides. While pushing a door out isn’t such a big deal, opening a door inwards is a three step process: Getting up on her hind legs to put weight on the handle to turn it, then ramming the door so that it rebounds off the jamb, so that she can pry her head through to create space to walk in or out. That’s pretty impressive, in my books.


She’s also done the following (repeatedly): waited until I am “occupied” in the bathroom and destroyed the newspaper; waited until I am “occupied” ...and stolen a chef’s knife from the counter (think “pirate”); waited until I am “occupied” ...and raided the bedrooms to steal undergarments (she’s partial to women’s delicates); waited until I am...you get the gist of it. It’s basically not safe to go to the bathroom at my house.


I really don’t have enough room here to write about all the other things Ellie does that demonstrate her cleverness. In fact the only thing that suggests otherwise, is her seemingly boundless enthusiasm, affection and devotion to me. Conversely, my boundless enthusiasm, affection and devotion to her is absolutely a hallmark of my intelligence. The key take away point: Smart ≠ well behaved. Which I suppose is no great surprise. Or at least shouldn’t have been a surprise to any “smart” dog owners. Ellie = our continuing education.


If you’re a smart puppy you’ll check out Carlyle Jansen’s great article on how your key personality characteristics correlate to your sexual health Megan Horsley’s piece on prebiotics vs. probiotics and, appropriately, Naomi Bussin’s review of the Genius Desserts cookbook . For more in-depth coverage of those topics, please be sure to listen into THE TONIC Talk Show on Saturdays at 11:00 am on AM740, as those writers, and many more of your Tonic favourites, will all be on the show to discuss their articles. And if you can’t tune in then, you can always listen in at your convenience to the podcast on iTunes or at thetonic.ca   As always, if you have any questions or comments about this note or anything else in the November issue, please feel free to contact me directly.


P.S. In between my first draft and final version of this article, Ellie chewed up another pen when I was out for dinner, destroyed an unopened bill and three business cards while I was “occupied” and has learned how to “High 5”.

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