SUPERDOGS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Tom and I have had some awesome dogs. Some have had mad skills.

For example, Tom had a Giant Schnauzer named George. He was a serious herder. When Tom had a party, everyone always ended up huddled together in the corner of one room. George would be happily asleep nearby.

In addition to herding humans, George was a skilled dog herder. Often when Tom came home from work, he’d find six to eight dogs from the neighborhood in his backyard. George had collected them and brought them home. Tom would have to shoo the dogs off and send them back to their own homes.

Tom had a radio show years ago and he wrote comedy skits for the show. One was about a dog advice columnist and was called “Ask Dr. Dog”. Tom would put George in front of a microphone and point at him and George would bark on cue. Another hand signal and George would stop. Better than most human radio personalities!

Friday was a Shepard mix of Tom’s. He would obsessively steal silverware. Tom never knew why. He just knew George would sneak off with forks, spoons, or knives in his mouth.

One day, Tom followed Friday to see where he took his stolen dinnerware. Friday had a big stash behind his favorite chair. The amazing thing was that Friday had organized the cutlery by type. All the forks were together, all the spoons were together and all the knives were together. That requires a level of cognitive skills that dogs are not supposed to have. It was a surprising feat for a dog.

I had a wonderful Golden Retriever Border Collie mix named Sam. Everyone loved this beautiful dog. But he was an escape artist and a food thief. He got out of a locked crate and actually bent some of the bars in the process. He also got out of a house with all the doors shut. We have no idea how he did it. After that we nicknamed Sam, “Hairy Houdini”.

Sam’s other talent was stealing food very, very discreetly. One day I put a chicken sandwich on the kitchen table for my son, David. David called up to me asking why I had given him a lettuce sandwich. I insisted that I had made him a chicken sandwich. I went into the kitchen and David was right. There was no chicken in the sandwich. But the sandwich looked totally normal. No signs of tampering. Except for one telltale piece of lettuce on the floor next to the table. The smoking gun! We found out later that Tom had actually watched Sam carefully pull the chicken out of the sandwich, leaving the rest of the sandwich intact.

Sam also got some Rugellah I had left in the car with him for a few minutes. But the cookies were tightly wrapped in two layers of aluminum foil. When I got back to the car, the two layers of foil had been carefully unwrapped. There wasn’t a single tear anywhere in the foil. And there were only a few crumbs left sitting in the middle of the package.

One other dog of mine and Tom’s also had a superpower. His name was Caley and he was a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. He was an extraordinary Frisbee dog. He could catch almost any Frisbee you could throw at him. He’d jump in the air and do all kinds of twists and flips, backward and forwards, to get to the Frisbee. As impressive as that is, many dogs can do that. Caley could do something else.

When we had landscapers working in our yard, they had to pick the rocks out of the soil to create planting areas. Caley was out with the landscapers. The boss knocked on my door and asked me to please keep Caley inside. Apparently, when the men threw a rock away, Caley would retrieve it and bring it back to them. So he was slowing the work down. We tested him to see if he was bringing back the same rocks that had been thrown. And he was.

A year later, the landscaper was standing outside the house with me, reminiscing about the amazing rock trick Caley had done the previous year. Caley came running outside and went right up to the landscaper. Then he ran off. He came back with a rock in his mouth and dropped it excitedly at the landscaper’s feet. He waited, wagging his tail, for the rock to be thrown for him. He remembered the rock game and wanted to play it again!

There are a lot of talented dogs out there. These are just some of our stories about our dogs with unique talents.

2 thoughts on “SUPERDOGS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

  1. What brilliant and wonderful tales! Sandwich picking Sam took the biscuit…. my dog was a great thief too, but so NOT subtle. Whatever we left unprotected and not bolted down on a table or anywhere, was stolen and eaten. Still as a puppy, in a holiday home with a balcony precariously placed over a deep fall in the wood, she jumped on the round table, slided over it, grabbed the butter and flew right over the wooden surroundings and fell some 15m (45ft) down the woods…. it took us 30′ to reach her, and another 45′ to climb up again to our abode! She stole everything…. no time wasted to unwrap or pretend it wasn’t her!
    Love also Caley’s special trick to bring back rocks to the gardeners. Our little dog used to ‘excavate’ the tulip and daffodil bulbs right behind me and did this so skillfully that I only realised when the neighbours started laughing at my efforts….
    All your (and Tom’s) dogs are extraordinary and great, great entertainers.
    DOGS reign supremely!

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