Talkes from the Bark Side column: Lara Mee, the thinker
Welcome back to the bark side of life here in Ottertail, where tall stately pines stand sentinel straight to the impending dawn.
Shimmering in the morning light, bearing witness to the change of seasons, they silently watch the melting snow... and the day becomes like sunshine; warm, bright, and casual.
Winter wanes wonderfully into our recent memories and tomorrow shines as bright as the rising sun on the eastern edge of today.
I've shared the exploits of our oldest female German Shepherd, Lara Mee, more than once and I ask that I may use her once again as an example of a canine's reasoning powers.
Lara Mee is an affection junkie. She will do almost anything to obtain a thorough ear rubbing or a meaningful scratching of her head. Weighing 120 pounds, she can be quite formidable looking and once she has established her docile dominion over you, she will leave your company, having been completely sated.
But today's example isn't about her insatiable need for affection; rather, it's how she manages her coming and going around Rosswood with panache and logic.
For quite some time, Lara Mee has been able to open the outside door that leads to the sun porch and ultimately to her kennel in the garage. Many times over the years, she has stood in front of that very same door, feigning ignorance and refusing to even attempt to open it. A look of extraordinary befuddlement is written all over her very wizened face.
I said before that it takes a pretty smart dog to play dumb and have her human master/mistress (yes, she pulled the same routine on Cindy as well) open the door for her.
It was about six weeks ago when Lara Mee, her daughter Heidi, and the two pups Tenacious Toby and Princess Cora were coming in from romping out in the throws of a winter storm. Howling winds chased them to the door, and they all wanted out of the inclement conditions tout suite (meaning right the heck now).
I was standing on the other side of the glass door at the very time they were scrambling in from the cold... which was way below zero, with wind chill. Lara Mee looked back over her right shoulder at the two shivering pups (her grand babies of six months of age) and made an important decision on the spot.
I swear that she gave me a dirty look after she opened the door, for all to clamor inside. She had to make a quick decision, and the well being of her small pack of half frozen doggies won over the ruse she had been perpetrating on her master.
We've been told that necessity is the mother of invention but it also is the driving force behind survival. That qualifies as instinct. The trick is to recognize that fact and to act accordingly, which she did; another sign of using her logic or the overwhelming need.
Some of our grandkids were here for Easter, and I told them that Lara Mee opens the door by herself but she won't do it on command. I told them to watch her from afar and she would do it when nobody was looking. I got that "sure, Grandpa" look from both of them, and they went outside to toboggan down one of our hills.
It wasn't long after our conversation that they were back, standing behind her waiting to get inside, and telling her to open the door. She unceremoniously grabbed the outside handle in her jaws, and pulled the door open about 18 inches and she stuck her head and shoulders in, preventing the door from closing. Then she proudly held the door open for her young admirers and in she came, with both kids squealing with glee. They immediately told me to have her do it again. I smiled. It seemed that the rules of the game had changed, again!
I called Lara Mee over to me and told her to go outside and do it again... well, not exactly in those words. She looked at me with those big brown eyes and smiled her doggie smile and as if she understood every word I spoke. She played dumb the rest of the day, and wouldn't open the door for love or money (or ear scratches). The girl has her limits. She quit while she was still ahead.
Now, I'm am absolutely positive that there are a lot of you readers out there who have a tale to tell about how your two-legged or four-legged friends exhibit forms of logic every day. We have a contest going that addresses that very subject.
The "Logic vs. Instinct" contest will run all through the summer and while we are currently putting together the prizes for the winners, I'm quite convinced that the winners will be very pleased with their booty. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at Keith Alan Ross, Richville, MN 56576, or even call me at 218-495-2195.
Let's have some fun with this contest.
Until next time...