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Intelligence Quotient

January 6, 2013

‘Do you think Milligan would like this?’ Jim asked as he fingered the plush squeaky toys near the check-out counter at our local Petco. He was eyeing up some cute little plush lizards with a squeaker at each end and elastic in the middle. ‘She doesn’t have one like this…’

I laughed. ‘Admit it…you’re buying it for Heidi. Milligan hasn’t played with toys in over a year!’ I inspected the prospective toy for durability…Heidi had a habit of destroying toys with bound edges. So, only toys with smooth seams would pass the test and come home with us. Still, there were no guarantees.

Most of Heidi’s toys had been stitched in at least one spot. Some required patches. Her cow was down to three legs and its horns and ears were long gone. She generally went for the noses and eyes first, then moved on to ears, tails, and legs. I’ve recovered her favorite toy, Jim’s old neck pillow, eight times so far.

Heidi sits beside me when I’m mending her toys. At the sewing machine, she’s on my left, standing on her hind legs with her front legs on my thigh, straining to see the action. Her impatience evident through barely audible whining. She’s a little more patient if I’m hand stitching a toy. Maybe because she can sit beside me on the couch and see what I’m doing. She appreciates me. Well…I like to think she does, anyway.

Deciding it was pointless to deny my statement, Jimbo did the next best thing…he consulted me about color ‘Yellow or green?’

‘Green,’ I said. ‘It’ll show less dirt.’

Now, our Heidi has quite the toy collection…most are misfits; missing eyes, missing ears and missing legs, and she loves them all. She knows all fourteen by name and willingly retrieves them when asked. And now we we’re bringing another one home. Hmmm…let’s not explore that too closely.

So, to justify our silliness, we decided we’d check Heidi’s intelligence. We’d heard that a true test of a dog’s mental ability was to hide an unfamiliar item in with the familiar…then ask the dog for the new toy. Dogs with superior IQ’s use the process of elimination to find the new toy…the unfamiliar name must go with the unfamiliar item.

This was science, we told ourselves, and it was worth three bucks. Besides, it was cheap entertainment.  And we’re easily amused.  Especially with dogs.

We devised a plan. Upon arriving at home, Jim would take Heidi into the other room while I hid ‘Lizzie,’ the green squeaky lizard in with her other toys.. ‘Ready,’ I called, and Heidi bounded into the room to greet me. After our hellos were out of the way, I looked her square in the eye. ‘Heidi, find Lizzie,’ I said.

She cocked her head to one side, and I repeated the command. ‘Heidi…find Lizzie.’

She sprang into action…rushing to her basket, enthusiastically nosing through her extensive collection of toys. Soon, she extracted ‘Lizzie’ from the bottom of the pile, and proudly brought it to me.

I squeezed both ends of the toy, producing the squeaks Heidi so loves, then stretched the new toy to it’s full length, and let it retract. The little dog began to quiver with excitement, softly making little mewling sounds, just waiting for me to throw Lizzie.

And so we spent our afternoon enjoying one of life’s simple pleasures…tossing a toy for our smart little spaniel and watching her retrieve it. When the dog wasn’t running after Lizzie, she was squeaking it and gnawing on its left front leg. The same leg I had to reinforce with a few stitches on day two.

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One Comment
  1. Heidi needs to have her own blog!!!! What a smart, smart dog. Do you think she is smart enough to teach Madd Maxx some obedience lessons? Like coming when called? I’ll pay big bucks!!!

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