All relationships have to go through a period of adjustment. Sort of like the first year of my marriage, when I discovered that my husband not only snored in his sleep, but also had a habit of sleepwalking around the apartment in the middle of the night. (I woke up to find him fast asleep under the dining room table more than once.) Or when he realized that the number of meals I actually knew how to cook was rather limited, and had to tell me that even though he loved my beef stroganoff, he’d rather not have it for dinner three nights a week. Learning to live with someone new always brings a few surprises.
So it’s probably only natural that I’m still learning a few things about our new dog, Finn. He’s a Patterdale Terrier mix, and like most terriers, he’s very loving, energetic and determined. But I’m still waiting to see some sign of the usual terrier intelligence. He’s not stupid, but if he was human, he’d be a solid “C” student, even with his very best effort.
I have a mental image of my little dog sitting at a school desk, muttering to himself while working on his math assignment: “Two plus two? Okay, that must be four. Yeah, four. Now for two plus three. That’s got to be six. But what about two plus four? What could that be? This is so hard! Is it time for recess yet?”
Luckily, Finn is a sweet guy who seems to want nothing more than to be with us. We can usually hear him barking madly when we leave the house, but by the time we return, he’s always curled up in his crate, fast asleep. He loves to chase the squirrels and rabbits in our back yard, and plays endlessly with his squeaky toys when he’s inside. He’s slowly (very slowly) learning the ways of our household, and seems quite pleased with himself whenever he earns our praise.
Finn adores our grandson and is very patient with him, even though our grandson is a toddler who is still learning how to be gentle with dogs. It probably helps that our grandson is still learning to feed himself and about half of his food ends up on the floor around his high chair. Finn has figured out that toddlers are an excellent source of extra food, and makes it a point to be nearby whenever the little guy is eating at our house.
I’m still in the process of discovering exactly who Finn is, and what he needs from me. Sometimes I have to remind myself to be patient when he makes mistakes, such as the other morning when I came downstairs to find him sitting on the kitchen table, calmly looking out the window. I have to remind myself of how long it took our other dogs to settle into our household routines and learn our household rules, and remember to cut Finn a little slack.
And I’m still keeping an open mind when it comes to Finn’s intelligence. He does know “sit” and how to come when called, and he never potties inside. He’s learned that good things come to those who sit underneath high chairs. But most important of all, he’s figured out how to make us love him and forgive his occasional misdeeds. Which probably means that he’s just as smart as he needs to be.