The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

30 October 2006

Too smart a dog

They told me when I was younger I might be "too smart for my own damn good." Being unable to extrapolate from my own experience — I'm hardly an unbiased observer — I've never been quite able to explain what that means.

Until perhaps now. Buddy is a Border Collie, as dogs go incredibly bright, but there's a downside:

Buddy is 6 years old, and sadly, thinks he has Alzheimer's. Yes, I realize that the last half of that sentence is totally insane, so let me try and explain.

Buddy's previous owner actually had Alzheimer's. And since her house was the only reality he ever had, his example of behavior was to be completely surprised and amazed at every event. Since he is a Border Collie (the smartest of the dog breeds) Buddy started to believe that this reaction was the way everyone reacted to everything. And so Buddy began to "learn" Alzheimer's.

Buddy's behavior is to be constantly surprised by every single event. Every time you take him out of a crate — fear and amazement. Every time he goes outside — fear and amazement. Every time he steps on his own leash — absolute fear and amazement. And he does all of these things several times a day. And he is still terrified and surprised when they happen — every single time.

Dogs, of course, don't actually get Alzheimer's. But if we've learned anything about incredible simulations, they can be just as scary as the real thing. Maybe more so.

The latter half of my life has been spent unlearning fears, one at a time. I still have entirely too many of them to go.

Posted at 10:03 AM to Dyssynergy


There's no Doggie Dementia?

Posted by: John Salmon at 9:34 PM on 30 October 2006

No doubt there's some form, but it's not something that's learned.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:03 AM on 31 October 2006