Classical conditioning

It should have been clear from yesterday’s post that Canine Cognitive Dysfunction has not affected the essential personality of Archie, my friend Clare’s dog.

Here’s more proof.

Just as, before he got diabetes, I used to give Frankie a treat every time I sat down to eat, Clare got into the habit of giving Archie a snack whenever she opened a bottle of wine. Some dogs respond to clickers. For Archie, the sound of the cork was a cue to expect a tasty morsel.

As a friend of Clare’s observed, “When Archie is obese, we’ll know you’re an alcoholic.”

Well, Archie’s not obese but, as this picture proves (click on the image for clearer detail), he still stands on treat alert whenever Clare gets out the wine opener.

Or, to be more accurate, whenever he hears the sound that predicts the appearance of a wine bottle. Because he was originally cued by the sound of the cork being pulled from the bottle, screw tops allowed Clare to sneak tipples — until Archie figured out that he should be on guard for the sound of the doors of the cabinet where the wine glasses are stored.

Who’s still a clever, clever dog?

*With apologies to Shauna Stewart; I couldn’t resist borrowing the name of her terrific blog, Fido and Wino, for this post. Frankie and I are proud members of her R.O.A.R. (Rescues Owners Are Rocking)  squad.

As for Clare… I already told this story about her in Am I Boring My Dog, with her approval, but I never provided visual proof of this phenomenon before. Sorry, girlfriend, that’s what happens when you invite someone with a picture-hungry blog into your home. And just look how cute Archie is in that picture!

17 thoughts on “Fido & Wino*”

    1. Yes! I was originally going to include this post under the Training Tuesday aegis but then I would have had to explain in more detail than I wanted. I just left that subtle hint in the picture’s caption…

  1. In my defense (since your readers don’t know me) I’ll try to correct a couple of misperceptions: (1) sunny though it is, I’m not uncorking the bottle in the morning; (2) I don’t live in a single-wide, replete with shop floors and ice chest in lieu of fridge. The mats all over the floor are to assist Archie who otherwise can no longer navigate the wood floors easily, and the ice chest is for Frankie’s stash of insulin and special food during travel; (3) well, I won’t go into the bad angle on me, the bad haircut, etc., as the picture of Archie is PRECIOUS.

    1. It’s true, it was a late sunny summer afternoon (though there’s no shame in drinking in the morning on vacation. Not that we did). You mean you don’t always keep a cheap ice chest on your kitchen counter?

      And yes, I can attest the rubber floor matting is a new acquisition to help Archie get a grip. True, the picture isn’t the most flattering of you, but we’re all about the dogs here and as you say, Archie is a star.

  2. Breaking news for your friends who have arthritic or otherwise frail dogs: the shop mats are working wonders for Archie’s mobility! A simple and inexpensive aid.

  3. As I was laughing at the Pavlovian image of dog running to the kitchen as a cork is popped, my eyes found themselves glued to those mats…I think they would be a great solution for another dog I know who has trouble with his balance, plus vertigo. So thanks to you for taking the shot and thanks to Clare for letting you publish it:) And speaking of popping corks, I think I hear a glass of pinot noir calling…

  4. Mary, Archie has vertigo too, and these have helped that. I don’t know if there’s a Costco in your area, but they are about $11 for 8 squares, 12″x12″, and in a few short days they have changed our lives.


  5. *That* is so funny. Corks! Who would have thought?

    One winter when we had blizzard after blizzard, which meant I didn’t leave the house much, Lilly keyed in on the sound of a zipper because it meant I was putting on real pants and leaving the house.

    1. Zippers are pretty darned funny too. I guess you would have had to sneak out in stretch pants!

  6. What a great example. I love how Archie didn’t get fooled and found himself different clues! Dogs are so good at this, they surely do make the connections between events.

    Jasmine got so good at it that we’d swear she progressed to simply reading our minds. Sometimes we experimentally try really hard to observe what clues she’s getting and not to give her any, and she knows anyway.

    Our example is that after dinner we watch a movie and when the movie is over Jasmine goes out on her nightly ‘patrol’. She KNOWS when we are done watching the movie regardless of us finishing the whole one or stopping it in the middle! She knows when we just pause it! I am telling you, she know what we’re thinking! LOL

    1. Dogs are so much better at reading our cues than we are at reading theirs! It’s in their best interests of course but it’s still impressive.

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