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Monday, January 17, 2011

A Puppy of Many Skills


The fact that we are moving seems to have no impact on FLD Gus.  He follows us upstairs and downstairs and back up again as we cart cardboard boxes full of stuff collected from years of living resourcefully in a small space.  He decides to help.

Gus, what do you have?  I ask, hearing a strange metallic noise coming from his direction behind me on the stairs.

I set my box down and look back when I reach the landing.  FLD Gus stands at the bottom with Andy's red and black handled flat-head screwdriver hanging out of his mouth like a long cigar.  Gus, give, I say, descending to him.  He lifts his head as if to hand it to me.  I take the tool.  Good give, Gus.  Thank you for helping.

FLD Gus is like this all day.  Following.  Bringing me things.

As I judiciously select items from the upstairs medicine cabinet to take (we'll still need some things because we'll be coming back to the city a couple times each month), I notice Gus juggling something in his mouth.  What do you have, now, Gus?  He stops juggling.  I can't see what he has; a huge dust-bunny is stuck to his wet nose.  I reach down to check with a finger-swipe but before I get to him he purses his puppy-lips and spits out--what is that?  A DIME!  I can't believe it.

Picking up a dime (especially on hardwood floors) is a commendable skill, frequently taught to assistance dogs.  Yet FLD Gus figures it out, all by himself!

Another dime and one penny later, our upstairs rooms are clean of all errant change.

Eventually, the U-Haul gets loaded.  The townhouse is not quite empty, but empty enough to echo with our footsteps like the hollow sound when you tap a dried-out gourd.  We spend a "camping" night here before driving north the next morning--sleeping on a makeshift bed on the floor, realizing too late that we've packed all of our clothes.  No clean clothes for the morning...oh well, we'll just be sweating it out again at the other end, unloading.


Andy's son-in-law kids us about moving to a rural setting in northern Michigan.  "Just back up to the garage, open the door, and floor the truck--everything will dump out into the garage!"  He says that's an example of the saying, "You know you're a redneck when..."

Some hours later, our new place is in such disarray we might just as well have floored the truck.  I wonder how long it will take to find anything, and then how long it will take to relearn where we put it!

I'm behind the couch reattaching the reclining sofa backs when FLD Gus brings me Andy's yellow work glove.  Gus, give.  Good boy!  I take the glove into the foyer where we've been leaving our assorted winter gear as we come in, but I cannot find the matching glove in all the mess.  I set the lone glove on the shelf and return to the living room.  I get back to work and nonchalantly say to Gus, Where's the other glove, Gus?  Find it!

A few minutes later, FLD Gus trots jauntily over with what looks like a yellow rooster comb hanging from his mouth.  Gus, how did you get that?  The foyer shelf is shoulder-high and I hope he didn't jump up to get it.  Gus, give.  Again, he readily complies.

In the foyer, the glove I placed on the shelf is right where I left it.  Gus found the missing glove! 

Good find, Gus!

This is what I mean when I remark that FLD Gus is "scary smart."  He learns skills on his own.  He understands more than I realize.  If one day he decides that the job of guide-dog doesn't suit him, I'm sure another service dog position will!

(As evident, we are in the process of moving, so my posts might be sporadic for a little while.  I hope you don't mind!  Stay tuned for further adventures of FLD Gus in the beautiful north.)

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