A Ray Lesson!

I have written numerous Posts that were a result of watching Ray go through his day, and have often noted that us humans could learn so much from him and other dogs.

His needs for a happy life are so simple, as should be ours… but for some reason that I cannot explain, we complicate our lives so much with the clutter of peer approval, conformity and life styling, as we struggle to establish our identities in a world that recognizes us generally as a commodity to be manipulated and used.

Much as I prefer the simplicity of Ray’s life, he is constantly challenging us and in doing so, has established an extremely high level of not only opportunistic thinking; not only an enviable positive outlook, but also an amazing display of perseverance!

When we take Ray on his walks, and if we stay in our general area, we have to plan our route carefully. The problem is that there a number of places where Ray will put on his brakes until he gets a treat, and the one probably most mentioned in past Posts is Fantastico Pizza which is just around the corner. The owners love Ray and give him pepperoni slices (there is an interesting story about Ray and pepperoni in his book).

The issue is that we cannot let Ray believe that he will get treats every time he stops at a food store, as he will naturally keep perpetuating the issue. Like wise we cannot “bribe him” past a food store for exactly the same reason. He will stop and await his bribe!

Our solution is to periodically plan the route such that we do not go near those stores, or at least be on the other side of the road. This worked really well for a while until a specialty cheese store opened up on the other side of the road (and a little further up) to Fantastico Pizza!

I have only been in that store once (really nice but expensive!), while Carol waited outside with Ray, but that store is now a challenge! It must be stressed that while Ray loves cheese, that store has never given him any and yet every time we pass it (to avoid Fantastico Pizza), he stops and sits and stares through the glass doors. It doesn’t matter what time of day, or whether the store is open or closed, he will sit and wait.

This happened quite some time ago and, for a brief period, we thought he had accepted that the chance of a cheese treat was non-existent… but no! He has once again started to take us up to the front door and go through his sit and stare routine. We wait… and wait… and wait, until he eventually decides to move on.

The next time we go in that direction, he repeats the whole process! His opportunistic side is presumably saying “That store is full of yummy cheeses and today could just be my lucky day.” His positive side could well be saying “I’ve never had a treat here before but perhaps there will be different people there today who will give me a piece of cheese.” His perseverance is saying “My track record here is really bad… but you never know and, if not this time… perhaps next time!

I recall a motivational quote from long ago which related to indecision and doubt about an idea – “If you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain… do it! The worst case scenario is nothing will change, but the best case scenario could be amazing”

Ray already knows all that stuff, so what is our problem?

15 thoughts on “A Ray Lesson!

  1. Dogs are so smart! When I’m walking shelter dogs, I’m always amazed at the number of them that will suddenly step in front of me, sit down, and look up expectantly. They have learned that they get a treat when they sit when asked to do so, so they will start sitting whenever they want a treat! Whoever says dogs can’t figure out sequences and probabilities doesn’t know dogs very well.

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    • Absolutely agree with you. They are masters of routines, body language, and how to manipulate either or both in their favor… and we naively believe that we are training them? I would suggest that the reverse is closer to the truth! 🙂

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    • Now there’s an interesting situation. We promote positive thinking, and yet are often derogatory at someone who regularly spends $20.00 or more on a lottery ticket with multi-million to 1 odds of winning! No wonder we are a confused species!

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