Monday, January 11, 2010
George, a.k.a. Lassie
George knows that if he barks, it gets things done. Most commonly he barks when he can’t reach the rawhide bone he has hidden in the couch cushions or the toy that fell behind the end table.
But George has learned that his bark can do much more. Okay, don’t get your hopes up. It’s not like he alerts us to danger or barks to let us know someone is in trouble. Instead, he knows he can use his barking to his advantage.
George barks when he needs to go outside. Over time, though, we learned that he just stands by the door (and stares at us) when he needs to go out, so we tend to jump right up and open the door when we see him. Therefore, over time he learned that he can manipulate us that way. If we are sitting at the table eating, he will wait by the back door until we get up and fiddle with the lock, and then he runs to our now-empty chair and tries to get our food. Sometimes he doesn’t even care about the food – he just sits there in the chair as if to say, “Hello – where is MY spot at the table?”
Many times at night when we’re upstairs watching TV, we’ll hear George barking downstairs, and when it looks like he won’t stop, we go downstairs to see what he wants. It used to be that he wanted his bone that he couldn’t reach, but lately the bone IS in his reach; he just wants us to get it for him. Kind of like a baby who throws his toy on the floor just to create a game of watching the parent pick it up over and over.
But recently we noticed that George has a new demand. The other night we heard him whimpering and whining, and it continued until I got up to see where he was. I went to the top of the stairs and looked down in the darkness; then I flipped on the light switch. Immediately his whining stopped and he ran upstairs, past me, and joined Lance on the couch. He had been waiting for the stairwell light to be turned on. He’s done that several times since then, and we can’t figure out why he suddenly decided he doesn’t like dark stairs. But I don’t really blame him – I don’t go up stairs in the dark, either.