Is your dog this smart?

I admit it: I've been outwitted by my dog. My dog Chopper, to be precise. Chopper was a Shih Tzu. If you've been around Shih Tzus you know they have a peculiar way of sitting up: they put their legs out straight, so that they appear to be sitting flat on the floor. They usually sit this way to beg, but also to get a little altitude and see over the crowd. Chopper was very good at it; if he started to lose his balance he would lift a leg slightly and lean just so, and everything would be steady for a few minutes more.

Now, for a while we fed our Shih Tzus from a communal dish in the kitchen. They tolerated each other well enough, and we could leave food out for them so they could eat when they were ready. Occasionally, of course, we would forget to fill the dish, and one of them would find us and let us know that they needed to be fed.

One night we were watching television when Chopper came in and sat up in front of me. He hungry-moaned a little, and swayed a bit, but I thought he was being pushy so I told him to wait for the commercial. He moaned a little louder, and swayed a little farther, and looked over his shoulder towards the kitchen, then back to me, then again to the kitchen. Thinking I'd forgotten to set out his dinner, I got up and headed for the kitchen. When I got there I saw that the food dish was still half full. When I went back into the living room Chopper was curled up on the sofa (in my spot, of course) which was what he had wanted all along.

Man Smart, Cairn Smarter

Bonnet is the consummate escape artist; we have a fenced back yard (terriers, duh) but she sees that as a challenge, not a deterrent. She patrols constantly looking for that spot where the dirt cries out "dig here" and freedom, or at least the neighborhood, beckons.

As she picks out escape routes, we lay bricks along the fence, or dig it out a little and fill the hole with big rocks, or put something else there to persuade her to try elsewhere.

One day we saw her starting a new hole along a section of the fence that was just four feet high. We got some bricks and headed over to the spot. When I got on my knees to put the bricks in the hole she'd been digging, she ran up my back and jumped over the fence!

Luckily she jumped into the neighbor's fenced back yard, so she didn't get far. Now we know not to kneel in front of the fence without checking to see where Bonnet is.