Today I read an article about animal intelligence - is Flipper REALLY as intelligent as a human, or is that big brain just due to fat cells that keep the dolphin brain warm? What with the recent posts about dogs from Velvet Sacks and Ordinary Life I started thinking about our Tasha. She was a golden/labbie mix and passed on 4 years ago at the ripe, old age of 16.
Tasha was not the brightest dog; definitely not Lassie or Rin Tin Tin material. She never learned to play fetch - she played her own version, which we called "keep away" - she would run after a ball, but would not bring it back. She wanted us to chase her to get the ball back. She never did catch on to the fact that she had to bring the ball back if she wanted us to keep playing. Tasha also liked to watch TV - she would always bark at other dogs on TV - especially the cartoon ones. She was a funny girl, stupid, but we loved her anyway.
One incident comes to mind, though, when Tasha was about 3 and my son was about 1 1/2. We had just gotten back from vacation and I had picked Tasha up from the kennel. The kennel people had given us a biscuit to give her, but since she was prone to carsickness, I waited until we got home to give it to her. I plopped my son down on the couch, gave him the biscuit and told him to "Give it to Tasha," who was sitting next to him. I then stepped into the adjoining laundry room to get a load started.
All of a sudden I heard Tasha whimpering, so I went to see what was going on. My son had put his little arm, all the way up to his elbow, down poor Tasha's throat to try and get the biscuit back! Tasha was doing her best not to bite down or in any way hurt him. I extricated my son's arm - which did not have any teeth marks or other damage on it - and he immediately started crying "Tasha bit me!" For several weeks after, he would hold up an arm and say "Tasha bit me" to try and get some sympathy from various friends - most of the time we would say "Wrong arm, kiddo! and he would immediately hold up his other arm and continue "Tasha bit me" . He was too funny.
So, Tasha was maybe not the smartest dog that ever lived but she came through when it was important - she always knew to be gentle with children, even when provoked. A lot of humans could stand to be as wise as my Tasha was.