Our supposedly untrained chocolate lab is brilliant enough to act dumb when it suits him.
We adopted Duke (Marmaduke) when he was nine months and he stubbornly clings to several bad habits that are 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 winner 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 such a huge 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.
My daughter yelled after the retreating beast, ” You don’t even like coffee, you jerk!”
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 overhead branches, often I only managed to cut halfway 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.