Given that Ray and I had to learn how to communicate with each other in order to get our respective needs and expectations met, I was surprised that he learned faster than I!
While I spent hours reading books, searching the internet, and asking lots of questions, he appeared to fast track himself through the “programme” by simply observing. I guess our different perspectives would explain that to some degree. I was trying to work out how to maintain some degree of control over what he does, when he does it, and how he does it! I needed him to respond to specific requests, to learn how to express himself in a meaningful way, and generally to adapt to his new environment.
Ray, however, was not the least bit interested in any of that. His goal was simply to get me in synch with his wants and desires. Of course he would learn certain responses because food is the reward. He quickly learned to ring the bell on the back door when he wanted to go out because it worked. It was as simple as that. Where he has more recently excelled though is in providing the perfect body language, the perfect facial expression, and the perfect eyes to manipulate circumstances in his favour.
Ray knows that he is not allowed on the sofa, but nobody told him that he couldn’t sit right next to it. At the time of this photograph we had just finished eating and he knew not to get up and make a scene, but nobody told him that he couldn’t rest his head on the edge (and up against a leg!), and nobody ever told him not to use those big brown eyes as a tool to coerce food! To add a touch of finesse to this remarkable body language, he did not move his head to get our attention. His only movement was that of his eyes as he looked at me, and then Carol, and back to me and so on, no doubt calculating which one of us was most likely to cave in and give him something!
It is difficult to imagine that this is the same dog that came into our lives around 18 months ago.