Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Find It!

"Find it!" is one of the boys' favorite games. We play it every day at lunch, each dog getting three "finds" of the beloved Squeaky Squirrel (which replaced long-suffering Duck (of Duck Zen fame.))

Beau hunts first (of course) in the Living Room, while Zachary gets the back bedroom. I'd like to do it the other way around, since Beau is a much better hunter and the bedroom affords more hiding opportunities, but Beau gets... animated... while watching Zachary hunting.

As the Living room is visible from the Holding Area, and Zachary is a less then stellar hunter (ie: takes forever) and we happen to like our neighbors, we keep things the way they are.

Yesterday, in my quest to enrich their Enrichment Activities, I pulled down our relatively large collection (eight) of empty soda boxes which we carefully store (or precariously perch, depending on whether they avalanche on you) atop the refrigerator.

They are there so that we can toss one to the dogs every so often to give them something to rip up (Yet Another Enrichment Activity.) It's also fun to show them a ball, drop it inside a box, crimp down the top, and then give them box. To see their frantic shredding of the hapless box, you would think the ball was suffocating in there.

Today, while Beau was hiding in a sit-stay, well out of sight, I took the entire collection of boxes (all eight) and spread them out on the Living room floor. I added a couple brown paper bags to the mix, stuffed Squeaky Squirrel in one of the boxes, and called "Find it!"

I sometimes wonder about the intelligence of my dogs - both purebreds from a breed believed to be reasonably smart. For the past four (yes, four) years I have been playing "Find it!" with Beau - and over the course of those years I've hidden the Treasured Object (at the moment, the above mentioned Squeaky Squirrel) under pillows, sofas, behind curtains, on shelves, tucked into blankets, behind boards, in baskets, in heaps of laundry, in the bed, under the bed, on top of dog crates, inside boots, I've stuffed it behind/on top/and under hubby and son, I even tucked it under my shirt once and wandered around the room (really had him going with that one!)

But in all those years - for thousands of "Find It!"s - there has never been a pile of boxes mysteriously deposited in the middle of the Living Room floor.


Don't you think he would be at least a little bit suspicious????

Nope, not my boy.

He came roaring into the room, practically fell over the boxes, sniffed the first one as he ran by and then proceeded to check out the Usual Places - carefully picking his way through the maze of boxes to do so.


Meanwhile, Zachary, who had seen the whole hiding process from the Holding Area, was practically beside himself with excitement, making noises I never knew a dog could make (any higher in pitch and I'd have been sweeping up broken glass.)

Finally, the Usual Places searched and double searched (Beau is a very thorough hunter) he decided to explore the boxes. He did redeem himself slightly by finding it in short order, but still - I have to say I was more than a little surprised by his lack of initial curiosity about the cardboard chaos I had created.

After that find the boxes were retired, Beau had his two more "normal" finds, and the dogs switched places. With Zachary in a sit-stay (who am I kidding, I'm sure he slumped as soon as turned the corner) I proceeded to dump the boxes and bags back onto the floor, stuffed the Squirrel into a bag this time, and called "Find It!"

Zachary, a credit to his breed, went straight to work snuffling the boxes and bags, and while he took a bit longer to find the right container, at least he knew to look in the containers!

Anyway, needless to say a good time was had by all and this Enrichment Activity received two very big paws up.


Wendy Krehbiel said...

Someone's been watching K9 Nosework videos!

BZ Dogs said...

How is Ren doing with those paint cans?

katie, Maizey and Magnus said...

hi kathleen! That is such a funny post! Those boys of yours are going to be the most "enriched" Goldens ever!LOL

Do you think Zachary knew to look in the boxes from seeing you hide the toy for Beau the first time?

I find it fascinating how some dogs are so observant. Meeka has taken to beating Maizey to the mat on park it. I never taught meeka to park it, she already has a command called settle that means the same thing. But by watching Maizey now she knows park it and I need a bigger mat!LOL

Wendy Krehbiel said...

We abandoned the paint cans and used a few other strategies not caught on video. I'm now to a point that he only paws once or twice before doing a down with boxes (and it's pawing, not digging). Only catch is I can only use boxes with lids that are single flap that fold down (vs 4 flap boxes). Luckily they usually use the single flap boxes at trials.