Back in November I wrote about Levi's attention to bells and timers. At one-thirty the other night he stood by my bed and poked me awake with his nose. I scratched his head and told him to go back to bed. Instead, he stood up on his hind legs, placed one paw on the mattress for balance and used the other one to slap me repeatedly on the shoulder. When he was satisfied that I was wide awake, he walked to the bedroom door and looked over his shoulder, waiting for me to follow him. I did -- all the way into the kitchen, where he stopped and looked up toward the spot where my cell phone lay on the counter. At precisely that moment, the phone lit up and the text tone sounded. It was a wrong number, but Levi didn't know that. I like to think he'd alert me to an urgent call, too.
The arrangement of chairs on our patio looks odd but has a purpose. Two of the chairs sit facing each other with about a foot of knee room between them. The chair that looks out onto the yard is for sitting; the other chair is for propping feet on and is also used as a tennis-ball return spot. After we get tired of throwing the ball for the dogs, they get a little more mileage out of us by placing the ball on the seat of the chair, where a human foot hardly has to move at all to knock the ball off the to one side or another. Kim noticed recently that Levi and Gimpy understand spatial relationships well enough that they wait on the left side of the chair if her foot is positioned to the right of the ball. If she moves her leg to the left side of the ball, both dogs scurry around to the right side of the chair.
They do something similar when we play coffee-table ball in the house. Once they've placed the ball under the low-slung table, they watch while I stick the broom handle under there, then they quickly map out some kind of mental trajectory and race each other to the exact place where the ball will roll out as soon as I give it a good whack.
Levi is the only dog I've ever had that understands to look in the direction a finger points instead of focusing on the pointed finger. This skill comes in handy. He rarely goes outside without a ball in his mouth, and he knows it's his job to bring the ball back in the house when playtime is over. Usually he does it. Sometimes, if he hurries back inside, I have to send him out a second time to get his ball. That's an easy task for him--unless he can't remember where he left it. Being considerably taller than Levi is, I can often spot the yellow-green ball that he can't see behind leaves or grass at a distant spot. That's where the pointing comes in: I point, and he finds it after a short search. Now, if I can only get him to understand what I mean by "warmer" and "colder"...
Such shaggy dogs! Haircuts are coming soon, just in time for warmer weather.