"What's too smart?" we'd ask one another. "Like, they correct your grammar during an argument?" We didn't know. So we threw caution to the wind and got ourselves a too-smart dog.
It was great at first. He was instantly crate-trained and quickly followed it up with sit, stay, down, roll over, crawl, jump, and do-a-spin-move. We even coaxed him into fetching inanimate objects, like tennis and soccer balls (more on that later). But our proudest achievement was the establishment of "the line". Basically, we have an invisible boundary in our house, right down the middle of our hallway, which Nugget is not allowed to pass. He's allowed to hang out in the living room, kitchen, and, of course, his own bedroom, but he's not allowed down the hall to the bathrooms or other bedrooms. We initially created the barrier with boxes and then started removing them one by one, correcting Nugget if he ever tried to cross "the line". We slowly downsized to just a piece of string lying across the carpet and then one day...all the training wheels were off. The line was officially invisible. And much to our pride and joy, Nugget stayed on his side of the line.
Until his too-smart kicked in.
First, it started with the visitors. When my little sister Jill came up to visit, Nugget fell in love with her. And Jill, with all due respect, is a bit of a push-over when it comes to puppy dogs. Nugget quickly made a mental note of it. One evening, while I was distracted, Nugget snuck over his line to kiss Jill goodnight IN AN OFF-LIMITS ROOM. And she didn't kick him out! She petted him.
Even after she left, the seed had already been planted. Inch by inch, Nugget would slowly start extending his line further and further down the hallway.
Nugget now has a "reminder pillow". But as you can see, he still toes the line. (And gripes about it.)
But Gary did once. It was a Saturday and Gary had been outside all morning. Nugget must have assumed he was at work. I was taking a shower in our master bathroom when Gary decided to come inside to get some socks. When he came into our room, he saw Nugget curled up next the bathroom door. Before Gary even said anything, Nugget's eyes got big and he slinked outta there real fast. Busted!
The other thing that Nugget can be "too smart" about is what he will or will not chase. Teaching Nugget how to fetch was a pain because he only likes chasing things with a working heartbeat. We finally came to an agreement that he will bring the balls and frisbees back in exchange for a treat. Gary rarely gives Nuggets treats, so when Gary throws a ball and give the command to "go get it!", Nugget still brings it to me. Because guys, this is serious work. It deserves payment.
I used to be pretty bummed about Nugget's insistance on only chasing living things, but today at the dog park, I realized that it can sometimes come in handy. I don't have to bring a ball with me to the dog park, nor do I have to throw it repeatedly and worry about other dogs stealing it. Instead, we chase dragonflies.
This morning, there was a particular abundance of dragonflies. I just pointed to one and said, "There's one, Nugget! There's one!" And off he went, sprinting and darting around like a champion herding dog. I then got to walk back over to a picnic table and just watch as he exercised himself. I also got to overhear a woman ask someone else what in the world was that little dog chasing. "The ghosts, of course," I wanted to tell her.