Whole Dog Journal's Blog June 4, 2012

Hidden Talents

Posted at 09:44AM - Comments: (3)

My son was visiting recently and we took the dogs for a walk: Our mixed-breed, Otto; Tito the Chihuahua, a relative’s dog who came to live with us “temporarily” a year ago; and Tule, an obese Labrador I was fostering for a few weeks on behalf of my local shelter. It was the evening of a hot day, and we walked to a nice spot along the river that flows through my town.

Tito retrieving that first stick.

Otto likes to wade, just up to his elbows. He’ll also swim a bit when he gets particularly exuberant, but it’s uncommon. Tule also likes to wade deeply, and to plunge her muzzle under the water and blow bubbles. I hadn’t seen her swim, though, in a half a dozen trips to the river.  Tito, who has been to the river scores and scores of times, has never gone into the water more deeply than his tiny Chihuahua ankles, although he’ll sometimes wade into a land-locked puddle a tad deeper than that.

Otto looking a tad upstaged, Tito triumphant with the stick.

My son is 20 years old, but still a boy in that the first thing he did when we reached the water’s edge – at least 15 seconds after the two big dogs had begun wading – was pick up a rock and throw it into the river. To our utter shock, Tito the Chihuahua unhesitatingly leaped into the river and began strongly swimming out into the current, clearly looking for the rock!! We gaped at him, and then at each other, and then back at the circling Chihuahua, who was losing a bit of ground to the current.

Tito trying to get Eli to "Throw it again! Throw it again!"

I said to my son, “If he goes downstream, you’re going in after him!” But my son was already putting a different plan into action. He quickly cast about for a stick, broke it in half, and then, calling “Tito! Tito!” he threw the stick into the river, about halfway between Tito and the shore. The tiny dog immediately swam for the stick, grabbed it, and swam strongly ashore. Then, like a miniature Labrador Retriever, he dropped the stick at Eli’s feet, and stepped back with an eager expression that clearly said, “Throw it again!”

I was still agape. But my son laughed out loud, picked up the stick, and threw it into the water again. Without a moment’s hesitation, Tito leaped into the river again, and again. By this time, I recovered from my surprise enough to take some pictures. Neither Otto nor Tule looked the slightest bit interested in fetching.

Last fetch...time to warm him back up in the sun.

At home, Tito likes playing with a ball, and he chases any ball you throw. But he rarely brings it back; he’ll pick it up and then go play with the ball on his own. I’ve never seen him pick up a stick before. And yet, there he was, shivering with cold, and begging my son to “Throw it again! Throw it again!” Of course, we stopped the fetching game after 8 or 9 short fetches and left the river’s edge to allow the little guy to warm up again on the walk back. I have to say, he looked a little taller – and our admiration for the tough little guy grew even larger.

Did your dog ever shock you with a previously hidden talent?

Comments (3)

Buddy (Bischon / Poodle) loves learning new things. So one rainy afternoon I decided to erect a little hurdle in the living room to teach him to jump over. Before I could finish setting it up, he jumped over it and sat as if to say "okay, what's next?"
Next was shaping "toy pick up and put away". We got to the stage where he was picking up his squeeky toys on cue and dropping them into the toy basket at my feet. Then Buddy went a step further on his own and began bouncing the toy off my leg so it would fall into the basket. Bank shots! I think he's more talented than me when it comes to tricks!

Posted by: Becky and Buddy | June 5, 2012 7:54 PM    Report this comment

Bryn will chase the cat kibbles that fall into the big water bowl by submerging her nose and blowing bubbles, coming up for air if necessary and repeating, until she gets her reward of a forbidden kibble. Shocked me the first time I saw her doing it and makes me laugh every time I see her "diving" for the kibbles all the while blowing bubbles to keep the water out of her nose. :D

Posted by: ANN S | June 5, 2012 10:17 AM    Report this comment

My first greyhound loved loved loved fetching tennis balls. I was out at the lake with my friend and her boxer. My friend thru a ball into the lake for the boxer. And my greyhound was in that lake in a flash, swam out and fetched that ball right back. I really thought greyhounds could not swim but turned out that greyhound loved water fetching more than fetching on land. None of the other greyhounds have been swimmers. ):

Posted by: NOLAhounds | June 5, 2012 10:14 AM    Report this comment

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