Just cracked open my favourite mail order catalogue. No, it’s not Two Wests and Elliot albeit my favourite gardening catalogue. Neither is it Anniluce, my fave workout gear catalogue nor is it the Southwest Indian Foundation catalogue for all my Santa Fe knick-knacks. It is, of course, Orvis the dog book.
I like the products but I love the models the best. Slumbering Setters, posing Pointers, snoozing Springers and even a dead-to-the-world Dalmation. How long must it take to shoot that catalogue?
So I’m flicking through and I come to the Christmas gift section with personalised doggie stockings, tree ornaments, holiday collars and … Interactive Dog Puzzles. I do the proverbial double take. In fact, a triple take as there are three of them: The Dog Brick, The Dog Tornado and the Dog Turbo. These Swedish designed wooden games have sliding blocks and rotating disks to reveal treats and are marketed as a cure for boredom.
Whilst I love the idea that someone has thought so much of dogs that they have come up with “puzzles” for them I can’t help but think that any dog I have known would simply chew through the wood to get the treat rather than engage their cognitive skills (which, by the way, have been shown to parallel some of the social-cognitive skills of human children (Like Infant, Like Dog)) move the little pieces of wood to find it. I’m very tempted to buy one but for £29 (plus £4.95 postage and packing) I could get 15 balls or eight sqeaky toys or ten tuggers and I could play too.
Although my knowledge of children is limited to say the least, I believe that they and dogs gravitate toward the simplest of entertainments: the box in which an elaborate toy was packaged in the case of children or crumpled wrapping paper in the case of dogs. My God-dog here, Skye, being a case in point.
Rosco, an adorable Australian cattle dog cross Doberman (although the only bit of Doberman in him I suspect are his incredibly expressive tan eyebrow markings) of whom I had the pleasure of taking care last week is a perfect example.
We had been out for our last long walk of the day and had enjoyed a lot of play in the unexpected heat until the evening when they all finally came in for some serious napping. I had taken a knife from my block to prepare some treats to mix in their dinner and Rosco suddenly sprang up in the air and pounced on the floor then raced around in circles. I was initially extremly concerned … for his mental health more than anything, until I realised the sun was still shining and glinting off the sharp edge of my knife. Rosco was pouncing on glittering glances on the floor. As befits his breed when he jumps all four feet rise off the ground at once and his back arches like an angry cat and it seems as if he is suspended in mid-air for a second before landing in the exact spot he launched from. It was hugely fascinating and entertaining. He did it later in the evening too with the sun ricocheting off a glass of water and casting illuminated rings on the floor. He tried to jump into the rings, but when he couldn’t he attempted to scrape through the carpet to find out why not. Hmmm! I changed to a cup of tea after that.
Given the choice of a dreary Jenga type puzzle or flashing darting shadows I would hazard a guess that Rosco would have more fun with the latter.
Rosco is highly intelligent and an absolute gentleman. He would allow me to go through a door before him, looking up at me as if to say “After you!”. My heart would simply melt.
The longest living dog on record I believe was an Australian cattle dog named “Bluey”. He died in 1939 at the ripe old age of 29 years and 5 months after 20 years herding cattle and sheep.
Rosco is only 6. I do hope I am entrusted with him from time to time for the next 23 years. Shadows will always be part of the service at “Love dogs”.