Thursday, 31 January 2013

In Sitting I Believe (says Kuri)

100 Posts!!! Kuri is very proud of me (in my fantasy world in which the dogs care about my life beyond my necessity for food provision and scratching that awkward spot behind the ears).
This is my 100th post, so I thought I'd write one about Kuri. She doesn't get quite as many stories as Hayate, mainly because she just chills out and does as she is told while Hayate gets bones stuck in his teeth, escapes, has a chilling fear of swans, crippling separation anxiety, bites me and generally ruins my life. So here's one for Kuri.
Shiba inu are so angelic... when they are asleep.

Hayate is a difficult dog, but his intelligence is undeniable. He mastered a handful of tricks by the time he was three months old, and I had fantasies about showing him. It quickly became apparent that a first-time trainer like me was completely unequipped to deal with a smart dog like him though. If I have a suitably delicious treat in my hand he will perform perfectly choreographed routines… if not, he won’t bother getting off the couch. My praise and affection is no incentive for anything, apparently. I taught him to sit on either voice command or gesture two days after we brought him home; he still won’t sit unless he is sure there is something in it for him. Kuri, on the other hand, is not so bright (although not in a Hyperbole and a Half dog kind of way). She has her own skill set, but it was clear early on that I wasn’t going to be able to teacher her the kinds of things Hayate picked up in a flash. By the time she was six months old I was just happy that we’d mastered “sit” (with voice AND gesture) and that she had (mostly) stopped peeing in my bed. Learning to sit was a life changing moment for Kuri. She seemed to feel that she had unlocked the secret to making good things happen to her. It was like the connection between her bum and the ground caused cosmic rays to focus all the good of the universe in her direction. She would sit reflexively whenever she thought we wanted something of her or when she wanted something from us. It became almost religious. I laughed long and hard in recognition when I read this story about a Boston Terrier inventing religion:
I took a few kibbles of food and flicked them under the door out at Zig.
She completely lost her mind.
This was the greatest thing ever in the history of things to happen to this dog. She went bananas chasing the pieces of food as they skittered across our tile. I’d try to get them past her but she was the most motivated goalie in history. We laughed, had fun, and then we forgot about it.
Zig didn’t.
The next morning we saw her sitting on the floor, staring at the bottom of the laundry room door. My wife and I were both right next to her, so we had no idea who she thought was in there that might be sending out food. It didn’t matter, she still waited. No food came out, but that didn’t stop her. Quite the opposite.
She began staring at the bottom of every door in our house, sometimes even if the door was open. She could easily just peek around the door and see nobody was there, but she doesn’t. There is a simple explanation for how food comes out from under that door, but she doesn’t make the connections. Instead, she is sure our doors are magic and randomly spit out food.
Then it occurred to me what was going on – our dog had created her own religion.
Kuri believes unquestioningly in the power of her sitting. It has progressed to the point where she sits as a solution to completely inappropriate problems. She will sit in front of a door for half an hour waiting for us to come and open it while we obliviously watch TV in another room. Before I tidied up the netting from our “green curtain” she managed to get herself completely tangled up in it… and promptly sat waiting to be rescued. We’re used to her playing quietly anyway, so it was probably close to half an hour before we found her and cut her lose. Nevertheless, when we did eventually rescue her she no doubt felt that her sitting had caused us to come. 
I knew you'd come for me if only I sat long enough!

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  1. What an adorable looking dog :)

    1. Thanks! She's really not so bright though >.<

  2. When we took Chowder to the vet for his new puppy check-up this week, the doctor told us that you have to hope to have a dog that is smart, but not too smart. Sounds like Hayate is too bright, but Kuri is just right!
    Here's hoping Chowder is a slightly higher than average dog (but not an over-achiever)!

    This post definitely made me laugh, congrats on #100! Keep it up. I've only gotten to #3 ^_^

    1. Thanks :) I can't wait to hear more about Chowder! I don't know about Kuri being just right... she can't catch. When you try to throw her something her sits (of course) and stares at it until it bounces her face. Then she happily runs over and picks it up off the floor.

  3. I laughed out loud for a full minute, "It was like the connection between her bum and the ground caused cosmic rays to focus all the good of the universe in her direction"... that is the exact description that I would use to describe our shiba Kitsu. Our female Tsuki is devilishly smart like your Hayate. Kitsu is a bit less bright, but once he has a handle on a sure thing, he'll repeat it hoping that the reward/outcome will always be the same. I love it.


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