Zack, our Pyrenean Mountain Dog, loves to follow me around. Of course, this is not to say that he will always come after me; but more often than not, he does. Zack has learned to listen out for my movements, and will pre-empt them.
My computer is situated in the hallway of our apartment. Zack may be lying on the floor away from my line of sight and vice versa. However, he is quite able to read my actions without actually seeing what I am doing.
Whenever I finish working on my laptop, the first thing I do is to close its lid. Instantly, I will hear movement from Zack. It only takes him a couple of seconds to rise from a prone position to a standing one, and within 30 seconds, before I have even taken off my computer reading glasses, Zack can be found waiting for me at the door at the top of the stair, which exits our apartment.
Zack’s size enables him to block the exit. This means that I have to turn his head away from the door if I don’t want him to follow me through. To compensate for this, Zack has learnt to point. Yes, point! As in similar to what a pointer dog does – with his nose towards the door. It is quite hilarious to see our big hairy boy, that looks nothing like a pointer, trying to tell me with his nose that he wants to follow me through that door.
Once through, Zack can be rather reluctant to come back down the stairs. He understands what I want him to do, but will sometimes sit at the top of the stair instead, right in front of the door, and look at me as if to say, ‘Who? Me?’ If this does not get the message across, our friend will simply plonk himself down on the carpet and stay prone.
Today, however, Zack practised the art of compromise. Cleverly, it was a compromise that put him in a win-win situation. The result made me laugh and laugh. I never would have thought of Zack being devious, but the evidence was there for me to see.
What did Zack do then? Well, whenever I want Zack to go downstairs, I say, ‘Down you go’ and signal him with hand movements. If he is being a little stubborn at times, then all I do is to precede him down two or three steps, and again use voice and hand commands to get him to go downstairs. He never fails to follow these commands.
Today Zack sat unmovingly in front of the door leading downstairs. When I cajoled him, he shuffled forward on his bum but would not do much more. He was still upstairs. Finally, using a combination of the hand and voice movements mentioned above, Zack went to the edge of the stairs, and carefully keeping his seat just beyond the exit, he placed his two front feet firmly on the first step. Then he looked at me as if to say, ‘See, is this not a good compromise?’ I could not help but laugh out loud.
Zack was looking very innocently at me when he did what he did, but I could see just a little glint of naughtiness in his eyes. The boy continued to sit in this awkward position until I finally moved him away. We have always thought of Zack as being a little bit of the innocuous dog. Well, what happened tonight has blown his cover. I think there may be more than a little cheekiness in this boy!
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