|On your mark . . . get set . . . Release!|
I'm interrupting Micron as he's having another Zen experience with the sofa. He is at One with the thing in a deep meditative state. This period of restoration is needed after napping on the cool floor in the foyer.
Whu? says Micron, blinking. Games? I'm in! Wait a sec, lemme find my special tennis ball.
Not necessary, I say. We don't need the ball for this. Let's do something a little different. This will be so much better than fetch.
Oh, ok. Different, huh? he says. He thinks about this. The tail of wondrous beauty starts to wag. Oh! Is it the cat? Can I play with Bodine on my terms for once? oh please oh please oh please?
You know what?, I say. I don't even want to know what that means. On your terms? But no, it's not tormenting the cat. What's your very favorite thing? I mean, besides napping?
Ah, gotcha! I know, I know! says Micron, with a quick tongue flip to lick his nose. Play time with dog cookies. You know, I kinda wish they'd make tennis balls out of food. Now, that would be my favorite game, I think.
And that would be the shortest game ever, I say. Ok, now look. I want you to sit on this rug until I release you. I'll be over here with the treats. You just come on over and get a treat when I say Release.
Is this some kind of trick, Food Lady? He squints at me. I'm not allowed to eat off the floor, you said. And getting yelled at doesn't sound like a fun game. Can I go get the cat now?
The treats aren't on the floor, I tell him. Lookit, we have these red plates.
I can't see red, says Micron.
You can see the two plates though, can't you? I ask.
Well, yeah, he says.
Then there ya go, I say. This ain't rocket surgery, Copernicus. I think you'll get the hang of this just fine.
So we begin with the warm up exercises for the Communication section of our Dognition exercises. We completed the Empathy sessions last week with games involving contagious yawning and timing how long we can maintain eye contact. I wasn't surprised to see Micron off the charts on Bonding; we do spend a lot of time together me and him.
|Micron's Dognition results|
I'm feeling pretty darn confident about this next section then. I know my dog real well, I do. And honestly, Micron's not too hard to read. It's almost like he has a cartoon balloon floating over his head with his thoughts. I'd predicted his results on the Communication session to put him well over on the Collaborative side of the scale. In the image above, imagine the scale as 1 to 10 with Self-reliant being a 1 on the right, Collaborative a 10. My guess? Micron would fall about 7.
The warm up exercises were interesting to see that Micron, when faced with a choice of selecting a treat on the right or left, always went to his left. Huh. Well, that's my right of course. The treat pocket is consistently on the right and cookies distributed from my right hand. Is that what's happening here or is my creative dog actually left-pawed?
And when we move through the exercises where I point to the treat, alternating left and right, Micron always moves to his left to collect the cookie from the red plate. Except when he doesn't. A couple of times, he actually does move to his right. But usually not at same time I'm pointing at it.
What the heck, Micron? We have a bonding here. The dog can soak up emotions like a sponge, but my hand pointing to the cookie provides nary a clue? So yeah, here's where he came out on this one.
|Micron's Dognition results|
Right smackeroo in the middle. What is that anyway? A personality split between unstable and indecisive?
Well, the ill fated Communication session didn't take very long and since Micron's still awake we move onto the next session of Cunning. And, important to pause here to note, that last sentence is the first time I've ever used the words cunning and Micron so close together.
The Cunning results have a scale of Trustworthy (that's our 1 on the scale) to Wily (and that's the 10, people). Oh heck yeah, Micron. Here's a chance to redeem yourself. This dog o'mine is highly trained, don't you know. Micron and trustworthy can be said in the same sentence with straight face. See, there I said it. Micron is trustworthy.
The results here will show us how Micron "uses information from others to avoid detection" according to Dognition. Ok then, Dognition researchers, cinch up your suspenders and prepare yourselves to be wondersmacked by the mighty Micron. Here we go . . .
Three parts to the Cunning exercises. In the first, I direct Micron to his rug, then set a treat on the red plate a few feet away with a Leave It command. I step back while maintaining eye contact. We time how long until Micron breaks down from the pressure and takes the treat. The timer stops at ninety seconds; a good thing because we don't have all day here. Micron is a rock. I allow him the treat as a reward for his stellar self-control.
Next is the same concept, except that now I turn my back. Humming the Jeopardy theme in my head, do do doo do do do do, the yellow feller and I allow the obligatory ninety seconds to elapse. And well done, my amazing dog. With all this mad bonding and training going on, of course he waited.
Do it again, says the Dognition program. You got it, I say with a flip of my hand. No worries here.
Sit, Leave it, turn around - we repeat the drill. And do do doo do . . . click click. What's that now? Did I hear doggie toenails on the kitchen floor? Naw, wonder dog is just shifting his weight, that's all. I glance at the timer and see that only thirty seconds have passed. And very slightly, very slowly I turn my head to make sure the treat's still in place on the red plate.
|can't . . . move|
The treat is gone.
Really, Micron? You'd do me wrong like this? I thought we had something special happening, me and you.
Fine. You know what? Just fine. One more set. Same thing, but instead of turning my back, I face Micron with my hands covering my eyes. Let's see how wily you are now, smart guy.
About a minute in, the moaning starts. No, not me, of course. But I appreciate you wondered that. The dog is doing that passive aggressive thing he does to get attention. It's a deep, low sound, this groan. mmhhhnnnnnuh. Like a very tired lawn mower with sleep apnea*. He is not going to make me look at him. He is not. We'll make it through the ninety seconds.
mmhhhnnnnnuh. Oh for . . . I part the index and middle digits to peek out. Micron is still on the rug, but prone on the thing looking like it's all he can do to stay conscious. I do believe he's hit the wall here. After this we'll be done for the day.
If there's one thing this dog has, well it sure ain't stamina.
So how'd we come out with the Cunning results with the opportunistic cookie thief? Yep, right in the middle again. I suppose it could have been worse, if he hadn't been too exhausted to get up on that last set. It's a rather rare occurrence, but it seems Naptime trumped the Cookie.
Next on deck is the Memory section. This is the longest set of games in the program, so it's obvious what needs to happen here, right?
A good night's sleep for the big guy and some better treats to keep him going.
Ok, so my prediction for the Memory games, you ask? Judging from the results of my last two guesses on Communication and Cunning, I don't have any confidence about playing the lottery anytime soon. But here goes anyway.
The scale for Memory goes from 1-Present Minded to 10-Retrospective. I can play it safe by predicting Micron will fall right in the middle of the scale. Again. But I'm not that kind of girl.
Considering that my food motivated friend will likely be encouraged to recall where a treat has been placed, I'm gonna say the mighty Micron will be a 6 on the scale.
Which is not the middle, by the way. The middle would be 5.5, of course.
*The only thing harder than describing the passive-aggressive moaning phenomena as a snoring two -stroke engine with a hangover is typing the sound out in letters like mmhhhnnnnnuh. Then I recalled the Yummy Sound from Young Frankenstein (1974).
Watch the volume on your speakers for this clip. It takes you through to the It's Alive! scene with Gene Wilder going all climactic over Peter Boyle. I wouldn't suggest that he's overacting in this scene, because I'm saying it outright. The man is way over the top and it's wonderful. What a classic, this movie.
That dessert, by the way, is Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Black Forest Cake to the likes of us. Now ya know.