I was just enjoying Peg-o-Leg’s blog about her dog Sally who is a master manipulator. Of course, if you’re a dog person you know that all dogs are great at that. But it reminded me of a particular stunt pulled by Sophia, my previous rescue. One evening, after she’d been fed and walked, I sat in my chair to have a sandwich and some potato chips while I watched TV. She sat down in front of me, blocking the TV screen, her head following my every movement.
My hand was what had her rapt attention the most. My hand went down to the plate, her head shifted down so she could stare at my fingers as they picked up a chip. As my hand carried the chip up to my mouth, her head shifted up so that the chip stayed directly in front of her eyes. She stared at my mouth, forever hopeful that I’d spit the chip out and she could get it before it hit the floor. I swallowed. Then my hand went back down to the plate and she followed it like her life depended on it.
Next came the whining. At first, just a short whimper. “What did she say?” my wife asked, knowing full well that my command of Sophia’s dog language was better than her’s.
“She said, ‘Please, sir, can I have a potato chip?'” I looked at Sophia. “You know full well that you don’t like potato chips. You’ve had them before and you didn’t like them. You won’t like these either.” Logic — works wonders on everything except children, adults, and other animals. Sophia increased the volume of her whine.
“What’d she say to that?”
“She said, ‘Please sir, can I have a potato chip?’ only she said it a little sterner.”
“You know how this is going to end. Why don’t you just give her one and get it over with,” my wife asked.
“And you know I don’t like to encourage ‘begging’ at the table,” I responded. “Besides, she won’t eat it.” That’s when I got the look from my wife, followed quickly by me giving Sophia a potato chip.
Sophia, delighted that she’d won, rolled the crispy piece of fried potato around in her mouth, then delicately turned her head to one side and yawned widely. The unbroken chip fell out on the floor. She looked back at me, following my fingers as I picked up another chip and fed it to my mouth. She whined.
“What’d she say?”
“She said, “Please sir, can I have a potato chip?'”
“I thought you gave her one?”
“I did. She didn’t like it.”
“But she wants another one?”
I sighed. “Apparently her doggie logic goes like this: my person is eating something. Rules of the pack say that when the alpha eats, everybody eats. Therefore, I want some of what he’s having. If I didn’t like the last bite, maybe I’ll like the next one. After all, he’s eating it, so it must be good.” While this conversation was going on, I was shoveling potato chips into my cake hole as fast as I could. Finally, they were gone. I showed the plate to my dog, who whined, sadly.
“Please sir, can I have a potato chip?”
So I reached down and picked up the potato chip off the floor. Sophia’s head followed every move. She watched me pick up the chip as if it were the last morsel of food left on the planet. I pretended to start to put it in my mouth. She whined.
“Okay, okay — you win,” I told her and handed her that last chip. She took it rolled it around in her mouth, turned her head to one side and let the unbroken chip fall out on the floor. She looked back at me, hope shining in her eyes.
“Please sir, can I have a potato chip?” she whined…