When Zeke figures out that we’re going for a walk, he gets very excited. He does this jumpyspinnydancy thing and doesn’t listen to a word I say. At least that’s what I thought until about an hour ago.
Sometimes we take the dog’s collars off and let them run around the house naked. They like it, and it’s quieter at night without all their tags jangling when they get the inevitable 3 AM itch-that-must-be-scratched-and-screw-you-if-you-can’t-sleep-through-that. We have a standard place where the collars get hung up, but today Oreo’s was not where it was supposed to be.
As Zeke was doing his standard pre-walk freak show, I looked at Oreo and said “Where’s your collar? We need your collar if we’re going to go for a walk” at which point Zeke raced over to the desk where her collar was laying. He used his snout to sweep it off the desk and then stood there looking at it, looking at me, looking at it, looking at me…
As far as I can figure, one of three things are possible to explain this, and all of them are great.
1) Zeke, despite his excitement, heard me say “Where’s your collar? We need your collar if we’re going to go for a walk”, and he not only understood some or all of those words, but he had the presence of mind to act on them.
2) He didn’t hear a word. He just knew that no collar meant no walk, and he took it upon himself to make sure the situation was dealt with to his satisfaction.
3) It was just a happy, random accident.
Skeptics will say the smart money is on #3, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that Zeke understands the phrase “go get your toy”. Moreover, he understands the difference between his toy and his ball, and will fetch whichever one I tell him to. Without being wrong. Every time. But if it was #3, then that’s OK, because it still totally made my day.
If it was #2, then that’s a sign of intelligence that is unheard of. There have been many studies of dog behaviour done that will scientifically discount this as a possibility in all but the rarest of cases. It’s not impossible, but it’s extremely rare. Given the fact that Zeke has never shown any abnormal intelligence previously, let’s eliminate this 99%…leaving that delicious 1% for “maybe…just maaaayyyybeeee…”
So I’m going to go with #1. He’s heard it often enough, and has watched me act on the words after I’ve said them. Maybe he finally learned the behaviour. It’s a weird thing for him to choose to learn, but dogs have learned more unusual things. Whatever the case, it was a cool thing and it made me glad Mr. Pancakes is my friend.