Does it count as a task if the dog taught himself? Also, baby chicken.

Sid will now open the gate to the fence on cue. Of course, he will also open the gate not on cue, such as when he has decided he is bored sniffing the things in the fence and would like to sniff the things outside the fence, or when he would like to go for a ride in the car and therefore needs to go stand next to it and stare at me hopefully. We are having to be REALLY RELIGIOUS about putting the carabiner clip on the gate latch, and I do not have any faith whatsoever that Sid won’t figure out how to remove the carabiner at some point if we give him the time to explore.

He’s kind of scary that way. He is not a terribly analytical dog, one who sits and thinks a problem through and then performs a solution. Zille does that, and it weirds me out on occasion. But Sid is really, really scary good at figuring out what he just did that got him what he wanted. Case in point: the door to the bathroom in the hotel room we stayed in when we went to Kentucky. The problem, from Sid’s perspective, was that the door was between him and me. He started out just randomly bashing at it, but his random bashing brought him in contact with the lever-style doorknob, and the door opened. He was pleased. And the next time he wanted the bathroom door open, there was zero random bashing, he just went straight for the knob.

Another case in point is the gate latch. He opened it the first time with random jumping and flailing because the gate was between him and me. The second and all subsequent times, he has opened it with a quick and practiced nudge from his nose, followed by a nudge to the gate itself to swing it open. He learns scary fast, seriously. Tink, for instance, will work on problem-solving by manipulating objects, but it takes her a few successes to figure out exactly what she did that worked. With Sid, it never seems to take more than one success for him to recognize what just happened and what he needs to manipulate and how to make it happen again.

You may also notice the theme of “there was a barrier between me and Sid” as the precipitating factor in his door- and gate-opening expeditions. Sid does not approve of barriers that prevent him from being with his person. As we do more training on his service doggery, he becomes more and more certain that his job is taking care of me, and that this job requires him to be near me and not, for instance, on the other side of the bathroom door. Since our bathroom at home is quite tiny, things get a bit crowded in there, and have you ever tried to pee while a 75lb dog sat between your knees and stared up at you? It’s an adventure.

Meanwhile, on the chicken front, the baby silkies are about ready to move outside. Daniel is going to set them up a temporary pen today, since unseasonably high temps this week have kept us from building them a more permanent home. Once they’ve moved out, the 16 bantam babies of various breeds in the smaller brooder will move into the Big Brooder. This weekend, the six members of the Pasty Butt club will go back to their home with Christine, leaving ten here as permanent residents. There’s five blue silkies and five Ameraucana babies. The Ameraucanas are hilarious, and have a tendency to stare at me intently whenever I appear over the edge of the brooder. I’ve named them after quarks, using the names I learned in high school (because Truth and Beauty are much better names than Top and Bottom) and so have Up, Truth, Beauty, Charmed, and Strange.

Here, have a picture of Charmed making eerie eye contact:
A teeny fluffy grey-brown chicken, cradled in my hand.  He is staring directly at the camera in a sort of unsettling way that suggests he will peck you if you get out of line.  And he will, because he is like that.  I have been pecked by this tiny, tiny chicken more times than I care to think about.

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3 Responses to “Does it count as a task if the dog taught himself? Also, baby chicken.”

  1. Liz Black Dog
    1205 on June 2nd, 2011

    Sid <3

    Spike's the same with things between him and his person. He doesn't necessarily want to be all up in my face all the time, but he requires to have the option open to him or else.

    also, that chicken looked as if she had three legs there for a moment. what.

  2. laura/yesididit
    1821 on June 2nd, 2011

    “have you ever tried to pee while a 75lb dog sat between your knees and stared up at you?”

    not quite, as my dogs are only 60 pounds, but they both have at one time or another decided they needed to be as close to me as humanly possible while i peed. and sometimes molly decides its not enough to be close to me, she needs to be petted too. and it CANT possibly wait a whole minute or so til i’m done.

  3. Katie
    2042 on June 2nd, 2011

    ok, are you a skin picker, or a skin gnaw-er? Those hands, my dear. tsk tsk (though really, I shouldn’t be typing, as I’m a lip gnaw-er)

    Hee hee. My little sheltie likes to follow me into the bathroom too. Not as big a problem (literally) as Sid, but I’m sure they’re equally hilarious.

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