Not to brag, but our dog Monty is pedigree royalty. Yes, he’s like the Prince of Pooches, the Duke of Doggies, the King of Canines… well, you get the idea.
Monty comes from a long line of Retriever blueblood. His mother, father, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers are all champion show dogs with enough medals and ribbons to make Lassie woof with envy. While his lineage is certainly impressive stuff, to be honest, it didn’t really matter much to us. When we got Monty, we knew he was just going to be a pet, not a performer. Not that he COULDN’T be a show dog if he wanted to, because we were sure that he had the genes for it.
Or did he?
“I think Monty was adopted,” I said to my husband over dinner one night.
We both watched as the dog walked under the kitchen table and bonked his head on the glass for the gazillionth time.
“Doesn’t learn from his mistakes, does he?” observed my husband.
The dog bonked his head again.
“Not so much,” I said.
The dog walked over and put his head in my lap. He wagged his tail vigorously.
“He may not be the brightest bulb in the socket, but he’s certainly the sweetest,” I commented, as he came within inches of knocking a water glass over with his tail.
Although the issue with the kitchen table was the most obvious indicator of our dog’s limited intelligence, it was not the first. Several days after we brought him home as a puppy, he looked out the glass doors of our deck and noticed a squirrel in the backyard. Barking frantically, he ran to the doors, and then — straight into the doors.
He kept this up for a number of weeks before we trained him to sit and wait at the door until we actually opened it. I thought maybe the dog wasn’t stupid at all, but merely had depth perception problems and couldn’t see glass.
Wondering if maybe this was a breed issue, I consulted with my brother who also had a retriever to see what his experience was.
“Clyde doesn’t have a problem with glass,” said my brother of his golden retriever. “Clyde has a problem with apples.”
“We have a crab apple tree in our yard and he loves the apples, but they make him sick,” my brother explained. “He will eat a dozen of them and then he’ll throw up. Then he’ll go right back out and eat a dozen more.”
“Doesn’t learn from his mistakes, does he?”
“Not so much,” he said.
I decided that our dog wasn’t going to win any trophies or ribbons, but he was sweet and loveable and ultimately, as a pet, that’s what really mattered. A few days later, I took Monty to the vet for his annual check up. As Monty slobbered all over her, the vet patted his head.
“Wow, that’s quite a bump on the top of his head,” she exclaimed.
“Yeah, he bonks his head a lot,” I said sheepishly.
“No, it’s fine,” she said. “All retrievers have this bump.”
“Yeah. It’s his occipital bone,” she explained. “We call it a ‘smart bump! He must be very smart!’” she exclaimed as she scratched him behind the ears.
I looked at the dog dubiously. He raised his head up to be scratched some more, and bonked his head under the examination table.
“Yeah … Not so much.”
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