Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Master of the Game

I have been working on a game with Duncan. In short, I hold a treat in one hand for him to see, then pass it very obviously back and forth from one hand to the other, moving slowly so he can follow along. After a couple of passes I fold my palm up around the treat, hold both hands out for him to see and ask which hand the treat is in––a very rudimentary version of the shell game. While he is very good at picking a hand, he isn't so good at selecting the correct one.

We were sitting on the hillside in The Glen this morning, the sun already high and warm, the grass cool under us, practicing the game. After several attempts at picking the wrong hand I could see he was getting frustrated so I moved slower and even more obvious than before. When it came time to pick a hand, he once again selected the wrong one, sighing and harumphing as he does when the treat eludes him once again. But he is not the kind of dog to grow discouraged so I decided we'd go again.

This time though, when it came time to pick a hand, he surprised me. Once both my hands were held out in front of him, he leaned back and with both paws chose both hands at once. As I was about to laugh he leaned in, slobbered me with a big wet kiss right across my nose and both eyes, knocking me back. Both palms came open at once and while I was falling backward, he leaned in and slurped up the waiting treat. By the time I righted myself he was sitting in front of me calmly, licking the last of the crumbs from his chin, grinning ear to ear, his tail wagging.

Clearly he's mastered my little game.


Max Mom said...

Hey Curt,
I know your post is more about the writing than about the treat, but I have a suggestion:
The confusion that Duncan displays is because there are remnants of treat on both of your hands. I am certain that Duncan will enjoy this other game:
Take two/three/more plastic tumblers (or similar), place them upside down on the floor, a small distance apart from one another. Then place the treat under one of them (without Duncan seeing which one). Encourage him to find the treat. (My dogs LOVE this game)
Once he has mastered this game (which will be quickly!), you can move him onto the hand game again... all he needs to do is refine his smell searching techniques :)
(You can also hide treats in the house and encourage him to find them)
Most of all, though, ENJOY!
Sending lotsaluv to you all,

Anonymous said...

Too cute. I play a similar game, but I let Finn smell. She usually gets it right, but I guess there are remnants of the treat in each hand. I might try with tumblers as suggested just to mix it up!

NodakJack said...

At least you don't play the "fake the dog out by pretending to throw the tennis ball" torture game.

Robert said...

What is it that Morpheus says in the original Matrix?

"Good! Adaptation, improvisation, but your weakness is not your technique."