Saturday, February 19, 2011

Trick question

When I tell Dempsey "switch," he knows to look around for the switch that opens doors automatically.

The other day, we discovered a bad design: Instead of the switch mounted, as usual, low on a wall, it was mounted on top of a post. It's very difficult to hit if you have limited arm mobility, and if you're a service dog, it's not visible.

The first time we saw it, I gave Dempsey a trick question by telling him "switch." He diligently looked around for almost a minute, before he sat and looked up at me sadly: "I can't find it!"

For take 2, I led him to the post, and told him "rise." Once he was up, he saw the switch, and starting hitting it with his paws till the door opened. We did a "rise" one more time, before I got cold and we walked into the building.

On the way out a different door, I decided to give Dempsey a test. Instead of telling him "rise," I walked up to the post and said "switch." And Dempsey remembered! Although he had only done it twice before, he had already learned that the switch was hidden at the top of the post. Smarty pants!

Here's Dempsey on his second time with "rise," and the first time with "switch":

There's a good reason why Dempsey went to CalTech!


  1. Hi Dempsey! Nice to meet you! Wow, you are a well trained, obedient puppy. You're going to be a great service dog! My sister, Chloe is a therapy dog. She is very gentle with everybody including other animals.