[Nameplate] Fair ~ 52°F  
High: 67°F ~ Low: 53°F
Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

If your dog is psychic then why is he barking up the wrong tree?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Here we are, right on the cusp of the dog days of summer and -- how convenient -- a new study from the journal Learning and Behavior concludes that dogs have "canine telepathy."

Now, I doubt seriously that literally means your dog can read your mind. But it does contend that dogs are at least born with the ability to hazard a guess at what we humans are thinking.

Lassie certainly knew when Timmy was in the well. Rin-Tin-Tin always knew when Rusty got himself in trouble. And even little Eddie seemed to know when Frasier was morphing into Dr. Phil with incessant psycho-babble.

But a full-out psychic man's best friend? Not so sure.

Granted, dogs are smart. Our little Westie, Chopper, certainly knows when I'm the last one home in the morning.

As I'm getting ready to head for work, Chopper knows he's about to be confined to his crate. It's not like he's going to do anything but sleep in there anyway but all of a sudden he has the braking capacity of a Mack truck and can't be pulled or pushed down the hallway.

If he were truly psychic, he would have figured out by now that whenever I toss a couple of miniature marshmallows down the narrow hallway between our kitchen and garage, he's trapped like a rat and conveniently collared for relocation.

Yet leave him alone on his mat in front of the storm door, and his squeals of delight and muffled barks become obvious clues that his chunky Corgi buddy, Nelson, is coming down the street on a walk.

Smart, yes, but I am not convinced that it is true psychic ability.

I remember how long it took for him to train us (yes, I said that correctly) that he needed to go outside for nature calls. Out of the blue he would start non-stop barking and grab at your hand with his teeth (without biting, no less, which never ceases to amaze me).

"Timmy's in the well! Timmy's in the well!" we'd mock him as saying when indeed all he was trying to tell us was, "Chopper's gotta go! Chopper's gotta go!"

About the only time I'm convinced he's psychic is when I am about to stray from my diet and sneak a bowl of Chunky Monkey Ben & Jerry's or a handful of Cheese-Its while the wife is out of the room.

Naturally, he's all over me then, jumping up and barking and effectively narcing on me until the wife discovers my forbidden fruit and calls the junk food cops.

Now, if you really want psychic, that white Terrier mix on the Travelers Insurance commercials, that dog has to be psychic. As the "Trouble, Trouble, Trouble" song plays over his quest for a comfortable place to stash his bone, the dog not only rides the bus but gets off at the right stop outside the bank!

So with that being possible, I decided to put Chopper to the test.

Tempted him with marshmallows and tried the old Vaudeville routine on him just to test his psychic abilities.

What is my wife's first name? I asked. He dutifully barked, and it did sound somewhat like "Ruth."

What's on top of the house? I asked. Again he barked and I decided that was close enough to "Roof" to give him credit.

So I then asked a tough one: Who's the greatest baseball player of all time?

But he just stared silently at me. No bark, no bite.

Can't you just say "Ruth?" I finally asked aloud.

But still, no reply.

Then I started to get a psychic feeling. I looked Chopper dead in the eyes and was shocked at the telepathic response. "Ichiro? Seriously?"

He hung his head and sent me another psychic message.

"What did you want me to say?" came the telepathic response. "Barry Bonds?"

Talk about barking up the wrong tree.