My service dog doesn’t have a lot of what we humans like to call “smarts”. I’ve known “smart” dogs, and believe me, Dawg don’t come close to qualifying. But, considering that he saves my life two or three times a week, I’m willing to cut him some slack. Plus, occasionally, he reminds me that, for a dog, he’s smart enough.
For example, the other day we were out walking and he suddenly refused to heel. He’d been heeling just fine. We’d made several “stops” for him to leave messages for other dogs and after one such stop, he simply wouldn’t heel. It wasn’t that he wasn’t finished leaving his message, and it wasn’t that he wanted to sniff around more. Dawg was willing to move on, he just wouldn’t come near me. My immediate reaction when he acts up is to think that he’s just being stubborn, a trait for which Bouviers are famous.
Now, as a crip I face a lot of frustrations on a daily basis. I like to think that I handle most of them in a sane, rational manner. But I’m willing to admit that occasionally I let them get the upper hand. In this case I’d almost gotten to the point where I was going to use the muscle of my motorized wheelchair to drag him along and show him who’s the boss! Yeah, brute force: that’s the way to handle things. Fortunately at that moment I realized what the actual problem was: I had just cleaned up after him was holding the plastic bag of poop in my left hand (i.e., between us). Given his “bag phobia“, there was no way he was going to come up close to me on my left side.
Feeling sheepish, I transferred the bag to my other hand and Dawg trotted right back into step with me. And once again I was reminded that there was only one dumb animal in the group and it sure wasn’t him…