|Look at his back legs. No, I mean, just look at them. This dog is like a
Black Belt in Relaxation.
|Past experience suggests that problem
solving may not be his strongest skill set.
So we say that Micron has a hidden intelligence, even with hints that he is edging towards cleverness. My co-workers share their beliefs that Micron actually worked it out to arrange himself the honorable discharge from CCI. He wanted to be your dog, my cubemates say. So he flunked out on purpose. That’s how smart he is.
Ah, my flunkie dog. Yeah, but we don’t call it that in the CCI world, actually. Micron is a Change of Career Dog.
But are they right, my friends at work? Is Micron using more canine brain cells than I’m giving him credit for?
Wouldn’t it be interesting to take a closer look and understand more about how the neurons are clicking in that gorgeous golden noggin of his?
I think so.
So I signed Micron up for sessions with Dognition*, an online program designed with a set of activities with your dog to give insight on how they see their world. This isn’t just some silly personality test that you see on Facebook, I want to be clear on this. The developers of the program read like a Who’s Who of experts in canine cognition. My respect of these folk are giving this a solid dose of street cred, in my humble-ish opinion.
From the Dognition** website:
The Dognition program has five components: Empathy, Communication, Memory, Cunning and Reasoning. Each set can be completed in a comfortable time frame, but Dognition recommends breaks between. Even performing the activities should be spread over more than one day to avoid fatigue. And on this I would agree.
|Dang, I hope there’s no math on the test.|
After completing Micron’s profile and initial questionnaire, we got things rolling. Empathy is the first evaluation. No prob here, I think. My dog’s got him some mad empathy skills alright. He’s a certifiable pet therapy dog after all.
Micron has this remarkable thing he’s done enough times to show that it’s not just something I’m imagining. When among a group of people, he places himself nearest to a person who is stressed. I’ve observed this in meetings when I’ve allowed him to walk freely about the room. He’ll work the room, greeting folk for a few minutes, then will flomp his mass down on the feet of a chosen troubled soul. Even if they are a self-proclaimed “not a dog person.”
Sure, I have no idea if this is the most stressed-out person in the room, it’s not like we’re taking blood pressure readings or something. But the person is usually sharing their frustration with the goings on of corporate life.
And the dog knows. Even more awesome, he wants to calm them. Something in Micron’s deep psyche is sensitive to human emotions.
You’re gonna ace this Empathy session, I tell Micron. No worries.
Dognition is clear on this though. There are no right or wrong responses to the exercises. Ok, got it, I understand. The Empathy session starts off with the Yawn game which evaluates if Micron will catch a contagious yawn from me. We try this as I pull off a few rather impressive fake yawns when real one shows up. I caught my own contagious yawn. That’s how empathetic I am, people.
The mighty Micron, not so much. He stares at me until he gets bored enough to lie down. But no yawn.
Now when I tell the kid, a double major in Psychology and Sociology, about this non-event, he tells me sociopaths don’t catch other people’s yawns. Because they can’t feel empathy. And maybe Micron’s a sociopath. I tell him that’s not very funny and yet I wonder why my sensitive and he’s-not-a-sociopath dog didn’t pick up on the yawn. A curious thing.
The next step in this session is Eye Contact. Oh, we’re big on doggie eye contact around here. I figure if the dog is looking at me, then he is listening as well. So I’m not surprised that Micron makes it through the exercises never breaking our staring competition. He did wink his left eye a couple times, which had me wondering if I should wink back. And about half way through, Micron got a little uncomfortable with thinking maybe he should be doing something other than looking at me.
I don’t understand what you want!, he thinks. Maybe it’s Speak. Is it Speak you want me to do? GerWOOF wuff wuff WOOF! Or Shake? You wanna Shake? And he smacks my leg with his paw a few times. While barking.
The dog is confused on this one. To his credit though, outside of the occasional wink and blink, he never once looks away.
|Keep the coffee comin’. I’m gonna be up all
So is this proof enough of our bonded relationship? I’m vexed he doesn’t care enough about my feelings to yawn, yet he did feel compelled to lie down. What could that mean? Well, we’ll have to await the final results to see how this comes out.
Four more modules to complete for his Dognition evaluation. Next up is Communication when we’ll evaluate how Micron interprets my gestures for making choices. We’ll use hand pointing and foot pointing to give instructions for his dog brain to work out. The results will be on a scale from Self-Reliant to Collaborative.
What’s my prediction for Communication, you ask? A good question, that. Keeping in mind there’s no right or wrong results, there’s only Micron, let’s say Self-Reliant is a 1 on the scale and Collaborative is 10.
I expect Micron to fall in at about a 7 on the Communication scale. I think the foot pointing, which is not something I do much in spite of my professional pedicure, will throw him off.
Stay tuned for the next blog post to see how this plays out.
|No idea, really, how the dog will do, but
I should ace the Foot Pointing exercise
just for style alone, right?
* When I mentioned Dognition to the kid, he said it sounded like “ignition” like starting a car. Which led us both to making rerrrr rerrrr rerrrr growly sounds like a car struggling to start, but sounding like a dog too. She won’t roll over, says my son. We laugh and laugh like the geeks we are. I know, you kinda had to be there.
**CCI puppy raisers and Graduate Teams, contact me if you think you want to sign up for Dognition. There may be a discount available for CCI folk.