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My dogs do plenty of really dumb things.  I won’t dis them by naming any of them (you can read about them here in past posts, anyway).

But once in a while they blow me away with their intelligence. I know–you’ve been a dog person for a long time and you take this for granted. I’m still new to this religion so I was startled and impressed when this happened yesterday.

I was in the back yard using the picnic table as my art studio. Crispin came out with me (not for nothing is his nickname Velcro Boy) and was keeping a watchful eye on his territory, and on me. After a while I realized Dinah hadn’t come out with us.

“Crispin,” I said. “Where is Dinah?”

He leapt to his feet and started looking all around us.

“Cris,” I said again. “Dinah’s in the house. Go get Dinah.”

He took off like a shot, and 12 seconds later he was back with Dinah in tow. We all settled down together to enjoy the afternoon.

I told this story to the Pack Leader, whose response was “Yeah, sure–what did you think he would do?”

I, however, am still in the beginner’s mind phase of dog person-hood. I’m impressed.

For dog stars!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m on an internet list for airedale owners, the cumulative wisdom of which has gotten us through any number of terriorist [sic] crises. The list never fails to provide wise advice on issues of airedale training, health care, temperament, diet, and antics (of which there are plenty).

This week a modest airedale owner (“modest” applies to the owner; ‘dales themselves are pretty up-front about how great they are), who wishes not to steal any of the spotlight from her dog, told this story to the list:

“Just went to FedEx in downtown Manhattan and there was a gentleman there sitting in a chair. My 9-year-old Duke (aka the goofball sock thief) immediately ran up to him, sat down calmly, and started gently nuzzling his hand. He usually runs around sniffing everything and saying hi to his favorite FedEx workers, so I’m thinking, ‘uh, ok, that’s news.’ The gentleman says ‘oh, no, I knew it,” and tells me that he sat down because he felt his pacemaker was about to to give him a shock, and could someone please call an ambulance because an Airedale Terrier acting that way is proof that he’s not freaking out for nothing. He has an airedale at home.

Sure enough, while we’re waiting for the ambulance, the man gets one shock. We wait a few more minutes and nothing more happens and the ambulance comes. The man says, ‘thank you for being here–your dog is very calming.’  Duke didn’t even flinch. Just kept licking his hand the whole time. Little kissy Airedale licks.

Hopefully the gentleman will be okay. Duke came home and crashed in his bed, like that took a lot out of him. I’m blown away . . .”

Duke (aka The Fuzzy One--in a more candid shot)

Me, too.  See, this is the kind of simple but amazing story that turned me into a dog person.  I can see how your very own dog might have this kind of intuition about your health. But a completely unfamiliar dog? Who knew instantly that this man, whom he had never seen before, was in real trouble? The most amazing part was how calm and completely focused Duke stayed while he was at the man’s side. Judging from the fatigue he felt afterwards, Duke was expending a lot of energy taking care of this complete stranger. Thanks for the lesson, Duke, and best wishes to the airedale-owning gentleman. I hope you’re okay out there.