Wednesday, April 15, 2009


It is a well known fact that Border Collies are the smartest breed around. I knew this before the arrival of Dolan-dog. What I didn’t know was that not only are they smarter than all other dogs, they are also smarter than all humans. Or at least this human. The thing about Dolan is, not only is she an incredibly intelligent Collie, she is also an incredibly stubborn Husky.

The decision to adopt Dolan was, to say the least, spur of the moment. More precisely it involved a visit from a friend with a litter of abandoned pups and the split second decision to grab the cutest one and hide her from Sea Bass until the friend had left and we had no choice but to become puppy parents. Yes, I am sneaky…and manipulative. What of it?
I knew what her breed mix was and I thought I understood what I was getting in to. However all the research in the world could not prepare me for a dog that is smarter than most of the people I’ve met in my life and even more stubborn than I am. Believe me, that is an impressive level of stubborn.

In our first year together I was brought to tears more times than I care to remember. I could often be found walking down the street alternating calling out “Dolan! Here Dolan! Come to Mommy!” And incoherently blubbering something along the lines of “Fine, I don’t care anymore. I’m not you’re Mommy. You’re a homeless dog now.”
Hmm, perhaps I’ve said too much? The thing about Dolan is that she is smart enough to pick her battles.

A year and a few months into our life together she no longer runs away at every opportunity, instead she chooses her moments. She only runs now when there is something really worth while running for.
It’s an interesting thing to observe.

We’ll be on our beach enjoying a lovely, stress free walk. Dolan is off-leash this time of the year because the beach is empty, the neighbours know her, and, well, the dog needs a good run damnit!
Dolan is running along, obeying my every command not to run onto people’s property or dart off out of sight. I’m feeling immensely pleased with our progress and deeply in love with my beautiful puppy girl.

And then suddenly I’ll notice her take interest in a particular sand dune and I immediately tense up. “Dolan…no puppy, down here.” Now, the majority of the time she will look at me and head back down the dune to continue her obedient jaunt on the sand. But every once in a while she turns her head, looks right at me and I can see the calculation in her eyes.

The damn dog is smart enough to know that upsetting me is simply worth the occasional risk. It takes only a split second, but in that time I can see her weigh the options. Listen to Mommy and go about her business without incident – but miss out an interesting smell, some small animal to chase, a neighbour to greet. Or, say to hell with it and deal with the consequences after her moment of doggy freedom. I see all of this run through her mind before she darts off to have her fun.

In the past I would perhaps chased her, which only gives her permission to run farther. Yelled incessantly for her, which only hurts my throat. Shouted threats, which only makes me sound stupid and ineffective, or I would have sat and cried, which admittedly feels kinda good. I enjoy catharsis under any circumstance.

At this point in our lives together though we’ve reached a compromise. Determine for yourself who got the better of the bargain. Dolan picks her battles and I in turn pick mine. I let her chase her shadows and in turn she returns to me quickly and without causing much trouble.
I call her right to me upon her return and she pretends to be sorry and that she won’t do it again. We continue our walk in peace. No more tears and empty threats. Happy dog, Happy human.

But a note to all prospective dog owners out there. Think twice before getting a Dolan-dog, unless your ego can handle a dog that’s smarter than the average human.


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