When you get a dog, you always hope your dog is going to be one of the smart ones or at least the clever ones. And if, as I did, you get the dog when it’s a young puppy, you might despair of its intelligence quite quickly. Puppies—even ones who are easily potty trained and learn to sit in record time when there are no distractions present—are basically infants who can walk. Everything to them is a new experience until it has happened at least a couple dozen times. Every sound is a potential source of fear and stress. Anything that isn’t belly rubs, food, cuddles, or outside is the enemy.
After about a year, though, something magical happens. All those bark-worthy, new-to-them sounds and smells start to become common place. The things you ask them to do start to be approached with less trepidation. They actually begin to learn things. It’s truly fascinating to watch what behaviors a dog will keep and which ones he might leave behind.
What’s more fascinating, however—at least to me—is what my dog has learned to recognize.
My dog has been to our family storage unit enough to get excited when we drive through the gate. That probably seems like an odd thing for him to enjoy, but he knows there is a 75% chance he will get to roam around and sniff the gravel and renew his mark on at least four spots before he has to get back in the car. I think he also likes the way his bark echoes between buildings.
Just the other day, when I had to take him for a checkup so he could get flea medication, my dog recognized the vet’s office. Now, I’m assuming that isn’t unusual, but ordinarily—at least from what I’ve gleaned in comic strips and comedy bits and memes on the subject—the pet is unhappy about arriving at the vet’s office. Not my dog. He loves the people there. The smells. The attention. The offering of treats, even if he spits them out every time because they aren’t the good stuff. When we pulled up, he nearly wagged himself right out of the car, he was so happy.
By far, though, the most amusing place my dog recognizes has got to be a certain fast food joint with the big golden arches on the sign. Whenever we pass one close enough that it seems we might pull in, he loses his mind. He whines excitedly, pants in anticipation, scrabbles at the console where he likes to prop his front feet whenever he gets to go for a ride and generally just goes nuts. If we pass by it, he knows that means it isn’t happening, and all those behaviors instantly stop.
If you’re wondering why he gets so excited over a fast food restaurant, it comes down to two of his favorite things that I mentioned earlier—food and attention. Don’t worry. I’m not feeding him cheeseburgers. However, whenever we grab food on the road, he does occasionally get a pup cup of ice cream or small samplings. And at least half the time, someone at one of the windows makes a big deal over how goshdarned cute he is. Sometimes, they give him treats. It happens all over, but the golden arches is usually where the ice cream comes from. So he remembers it best.
So if you’ve got a puppy and she doesn’t seem very smart yet, don’t worry. They do grow up and they do learn… and then they beg for ice cream like all the other children.
Jamie Dean first realized his passion for writing in his teens and it’s never left him. His work has been called “the perfect blend of angst, humor, and romance” and “…a nuanced portrayal of the struggle of living with a non-heterosexual identity in a modern society.” Jamie Dean is passionate about food, beer, and hot men wading together through a sea of angst, sarcasm and sexy times. When he is not reading or writing gay erotic fiction from his front porch swing, he might be painting, playing with his dogs and cats, or cooking experimental meals for (or drinking beer with) Jay, his husband and muse. He loves old cars, science fiction, road trips, and spending time with family and friends. He came to terms with his sexuality only later in life, so that struggle is a frequent theme in his work. He has since embraced it with pride and considers himself an LGBT* activist, a feminist, and a champion for equal rights.