My Dog is Brilliant Enough to Act Dumb

P1030934Labs are trained as guide dogs because they understand complex commands and can remember up to one hundred and fifty of them.

could complain  for this entire post about my still not trained chocolate lab who is brilliant enough to act stupid when it suits him. However I will limit myself to two antidotes and then I will astound you with his gardening skills.

We adopted Duke (Marmaduke) when he was nine months and he stubbornly clung to several bad habits  that were just too much fun for him but a pain in the neck for us. For example,  he constantly leaps up literally in my face, to engage in some sort of mock fighting. Since he is only 14 pounds lighter than I am but all muscle, he is the definite victor in these contests of strength.  After one frustrating encounter, I harshly commanded Duke to stay “down” and to “sit”  about ten times. I finally threw up my hands and said,

“Oh, why don’t you just go get a toy instead of attacking me?”

Duke suddenly stopped in his tracks, his ears perked up , he looked at me with wide opened eyes and then quickly put his nose to the ground and began to search for his hidden toys! Duke shocked all of us, especially since it now works every time.

Another secret weapon that halts mock fighting is an invitation .

“Come on up and cuddle instead of attacking me.”

These words instantly transform Duke into a passive lap dog. After a couple of hours, of sharing a crowded couch with a monstrosity of a dog,, one of my daughters pushed Duke off the Chesterfield when he refused to move. The intelligent dog’s reprisal? He purposefully stuck his tongue in her coffee while maintaining eye to eye contact,  slurped and then turned right around and stalked out of the room.

Way too smart for a beast!

No wonder People train labs to be finely tuned, obedient guide dogs.

For all his faults, Duke is an excellent gardener. I know that this seems to be an absurd statement but trust me. I speak the truth!

This last fall I was pulling out old grape vines around our property. Duke pushed me out of the way as I struggled to dig up roots and he proceeded to dig furiously with his front paws. Very impressive.

 As I pruned  over head branches, often I only managed to cut half way through the branch. I’d tug and pull but it was Duke’s who deserves all the credit for finishing the pruning. He’d leap incredibly high, grasp the errant branch with his teeth and then hang his whole ninety pounds on the branch. that dog saved me hours of work.

Now if we could only become smarter than our dog, all would be well.

32 thoughts on “My Dog is Brilliant Enough to Act Dumb

  1. I had a black lab assistance dog to help me get out an about. He was smart enough during one of our training sessions NOT to run out into busy traffic when I called him from the other side of the street ( a thing which seriously pissed of the trainer, but resulted in me firing him for daring to put my animal in harms way.).


  2. My dog has her little idiosyncrasies – It’s been an interesting journey ever since I started looking at her like I do humans – “What do you like to do? What are you good at? How can you keep busy at that, instead of causing me grief, because you’re bored and like the show I put on?”
    Works on children too…


  3. Duke has a sweet face and chocolate labs are beautiful. What a smart dog, he understands the words you’re saying. LOL about his tongue in the coffee when your daughter moved him off the couch! Astonishing gardening skills indeed, he is quite the worker. Loved this post, Melanie! Btw, so glad to hear he’s adopted, I always adopt.


  4. Dogs are so kooky. We have a police K9…talk about smart. You can actually see him figuring things out. When our Aussie Shepherd has a bone he wants, he’ll hunt down her favorite ball and offer it to her as an exchange. If that doesn’t work he’ll come over to me for pets knowing she’ll get jealous, leave the bone and come over for love.:)


  5. What a terrific dog! He sounds like one I’d actually like. As it is we have a snob of a cat – very particular about being petted – not now…not there…
    When she was young, she and I shared a cup of coffee in the morning (back when it was mostly cream – I really don’t like coffee). She was an inside cat – until she backed up to a bag full of bread bowls and left a lake of – umm hmm. She hasn’t been in the house since!



  6. Engaging post, and an interesting critter. There is a lot of science being done on intelligence, emotion, empathy, and other “human” qualities. Mark Bekhoff is one of the biggest names that comes to mind.

    Always good to read the variety in your writing,



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