Intelligence and patience vary greatly in dogs and humans. I see much of myself in our dog Friar. Like some of his fellow labs, he can be stubborn or very gentle and patient. Like many of his fellow labs, the next meal is life’s top priority. I think I’m part lab. Fortunately, he seems to understand and this makes him more patient.
Friar constantly sharpens his training skills. A fleet of toys reside in his bedside tub, or anywhere in the house from time to time. Two are purple balls, a football and a round “jolly ball,” with a handle so he can carry it with his mouth. The jolly ball has resided on a barstool with his leash. A mention of “leash” and he fetches it.
Lately, about an hour before dinner, Friar has begun to bring me the football. I take it, thank him, and say, “Let’s get the jolly ball.” He delicately fetches it from the barstool and presents it to me. We go outside to play toss and fetch, with a few treats to tide him over until dinner. He’s visibly pleased that training me is paying off.
Today, the jolly ball is in a new home at his level so he doesn’t need help to get it. Will he by-pass the ritual of exchanging the two purple balls? Will he directly invite me to our toss-and-fetch game with the jolly ball? Will he wonder why it took so long for me to figure it out? It takes the patience of a dog to train a human.