Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lassie vs Sandy

Well. As Dempsey's parents, we like to think he is #1 dog, but every once in a very long while, we get evidence to the contrary.

This week's evidence comes from his retired colleague Kenya, who we learned will be playing the role of Sandy in a production of "Annie."

I joked to Kenya's mom that we weren't that impressed, since Dempsey was hard at work on a science project -- a little something extra for his application to Harvard.

That's when we learned that Kenya has already been to Harvard, where she "spoke" at graduation, winning kudos for giving the shortest speech: "Woof!"

Eh, big deal. As Dempsey's parents, we know logically this is not a fair comparison. Kenya is already retired, and Dempsey is still a puppy in training. He's just too young. Everybody knows Dempsey has the potential to go to Harvard. If someone takes him.

Harvard, schmarvard. That was just a joke! The real test is a canine skills test, and I think Dempsey can do better than be Sandy. He can be Lassie.

Sandy is cool and all, I guess, but really -- has she ever saved Timmy from a well? And Lassie, unlike Sandy, is "one of only three animals to be awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame," according to Wikipedia. Eat your heart out, Sandy!

We're teaching Dempsey now to "go get help," i.e., do a Lassie. The idea is that he would run off, find someone, paw at him till he got that person's attention, and then lead him or her back. It's a pretty advanced behavior chain, and Dempsey is only at step 3: getting attention.

The problem is that Dempsey isn't clear yet that pawing is the only acceptable way for him to get somoene's attention. He's tried play bowing and barking, bringing a favorite toy and squeaking it, bringing his food bowl, ringing the bathroom bell, and rolling over for a belly rub. Gee, I wonder why Dempsey thinks these things will get people's attention?

Tonight, we had a little breakthrough. Now Dempsey tries leaping. It's not exactly the behavior we want, but a leaping dog is very likely to get someone's attention. Naturally we think this is further proof that Dempsey is a genius.

Let's see if your little McKinsey can learn that skill at Harvard! :-P

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