Monday, March 20, 2006

Genius Cat!

I love my cat. He's getting so smart. :) Really, he's probably not any smarter than he's always been, but my ability to tap into it has improved and he's really rising to the challenge. Apparently he loves challenges! Early last month I started watching a show on Animal Planet which only plays very early in the morning, called Barking Mad. It's a British show that features a pet -- two pets per episode -- that has some kind of emotional or behavioral problem. They bring in experts, find the source of the problem, and then re-train both the human and the pet to modify the animal's frustrating behavior.

In one episode, they showcased a dalmation that was completely deaf. The owners weren't aware he was deaf, so he was sent in for vet tests that pinpointed the problem, and he was indeed deaf. Actually, I could tell from his bosy language that the dog was just as frustrated with the human owners as they were with him. and then they brought in a dog trainer to train the owners to teach the dog obedience lessons via sign language. The dog responded immediately, and he became much more relaxed, happy, and confident with the hand signals than without them, and of course the humans became the same because of his change in behavior.

I'm always on the lookout for new hand signals to train Diamond, so I was delighted to watch. I wish they'd provided more information to where I could learn more hand signals, because they only showed two or three, one of which (palm up for "sit,") I already knew.

In any event, they showed "thumbs up," as a way to say "Good job, now you get a treat!" and I began working on that one with Diamond that very morning.

Today, six weeks later, Diamond's showed me several times that he knows "Thumbs up!" perfectly. :)

I was sitting on the couch, and for some reason I got it into my head to show him numbers with my fingers. I went to show him "One," with my thumb, forgetting all about thumbs up which I hadn't done in a couple of weeks, and he immediately perked up, his ears pricked, and he looked at my empty hands, then looked around the room for his treat can, confused. I laughed my fool head off and snatched up the can, then gave him another thumbs up, by which time he had scampered up to me and had sat politely, waiting, and I gave him a treat.

Next we're going to work on "Come here!" Which is a large circular backwards waving of the hand towards myself. I think this one may be trickier.

I love my cat. :)