If you have owned a dog you will easily relate to how smart Walter my Golden Retriever is. Not quite smart enough to excel on SATs to apply for entrance into USC, but if money was no object I could have his face photo-shopped onto Greg Louganis’ body because he is one heck of a swimmer.
Though he cannot read or write, nor speak any human language he is quite proficient in Barkanian. From a low grrrowl to loud sharp barks he has a wider range of sounds than a dolphin. I guess I have picked up on Barkanian because I respond to him in plain English. My wife Jo Ellen has also picked up her own language for canine communication; rhyming melodies of affection coupled with an onslaught of attention. Luckily we do not have children or any other witnesses that might remind us of being a bit too eccentric.
Now Walter’s favorite things are eating, going for walks and sleeping. He also watches television. His favorites include golf, bowling and anything on Animal Planet. Now he does not watch TV like we do; for him it is a participatory activity. He gets excited seeing crocodiles, horses, dinosaurs and other dogs. He barks, jumps, and runs toward the big flat screen TV to protect us when these critters invade our family room.
As owners of a promising dog we feel responsible for challenging him with ongoing education. His last foray into canine schooling was agility training. He was a natural at running through tubes, over the balance beam and slalom but hit the brakes at that scary teeter-totter. Unable to get beyond this, perhaps his education should go in another direction, something more cerebral.
Since he mastered the command, “sit,” SAT is only one letter away, so is it wrong to dream of Walter being more? As an AKC certified “Canine Good Citizen,” is it that much harder to push for MENSA Society? We are having initial conversations on installment plans with several college tennis coaches; apparently several universities are looking to recruit anyone good at chasing down tennis balls.