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Oddchester: Scout, the doggy genius

A few times a year, Scout, our Chocolate Lab, spends a week at one of the local kennels, and they always send her home with a report card.

A dog report card.

It grades how well she interacted with others, whether she was hungry at mealtime, the amount of inappropriate barking.

In most every category, Scout is usually Paw-fect! or Dog-gone great!

Deep down, I do realize these reports are blatant pandering to keep our business.


"Well, Lindy, we need to choose where to board Scout for our vacation. Based on past report cards, I recommend she returns to ABC Kennel. Last year, Scout not only aced her potty time -- they specifically categorized her as 'Paw-some!' -- but she also scored an 'Arf-mazing!' for not 'Ruff-housing' during their daily 'Walk in the Bark.'"

I say that, but I'm the first one poring over the report card and reading aloud the notes detailing adorable things Scout did during her stay.

"WHO loved playing fetch with her new friends Max and Maggie? WHO did? And WHO sat still for her doggie bath? YOU did, that's who!"

Our human kids have gotten less attention for straight-A report cards.

Wife Lindy is less than impressed by others' evaluation of Scout. Lindy, after all, spends the most time with the dog. And Scout, who craves attention, is rarely more than six inches away from Lindy. It wears on her.

Last week, Lindy was packing lunches for the three kids and me. Daughter Emma, 6, was helping. At 7:22 a.m., Lindy realized that Scout had gotten onto the countertop and eaten all four sandwiches. I know the exact time, because that's when Lindy's yelling woke me up.

Lindy is not, by nature, a yeller. So when she does yell, we take it seriously. At least Emma did.

Here's what I could hear from the bedroom:


LINDY [in the most threatening voice she can muster]: SCOUT! GET OVER HERE!

EMMA [crying]: Mom, NO! Scout doesn't know what she's doing! She doesn't even speak ENGLISH!

LINDY: This dog is not the brightest bulb.

In order to prove Lindy wrong, I do the only thing I can think of, Google "Dog IQ Exam." I find one, which is broken down into 20 tests to be given over a period of days. I administer the entire test in one night when Lindy's out with friends.

Test #1: Make the dog sit, or hold it. With the dog watching, place a treat on the ground six feet away and invert a plastic cup over the treat. Start timing.

Result: Scout uncovers and eats the treat in under five seconds. A top score! A few seconds later, she's eating the plastic cup.

Test #2: Same as Test #1, except with a hand towel replacing the cup. Result: Scout uncovers and eats the treat in under five seconds. A top score! A few seconds later, she's eating the hand towel.

Test #3: Throw a full-sized towel over your dog's head. Start timing. Result: Scout escapes from under the towel in under five seconds. A top score! A few seconds later, she's eating the towel.


(As a side note, I give Lindy the same test the next day, and it takes her nearly 45 seconds to get the towel off of her head. In her defense, though, when I leapt into the kitchen and put the towel over her head, she was carrying a plate of food in each hand. Also, she wasted at least 20 precious seconds by asking, "What is wrong with you?" and assuming that I was going to remove the towel for her.)

Test #4: With your dog six feet away, stare at it. When it looks at you, smile broadly.

Result: Scout's tail immediately starts wagging and she walks right to me. Top score!

And so it goes. After seeing a treat through a small hole cut into a large piece of cardboard, Scout goes around the barricade and eats the treat in under 15 seconds. She doesn't come when I call her "Refrigerator." She uses her paws to reach a treat placed under a low table.

Scout scores a 95 out of 100! She falls into the category of Dog Genius!

I cannot wait to tell Lindy. I keep Scout's results up on the laptop screen.

Lindy finally walks in the door, and immediately says "Oh, gross! The dog threw up in the entryway!"

That's when it occurs to me that I have fed Scout 20 treats in roughly an hour. I close the window on that computer, and don't, for now, say anything about Scout's paw-some score.

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