Even though we have known Ray for four years now, and even though we acknowledge so many improvements in his adaptation to our lifestyle, he is still surprising us!
Those of you who have read his book “Who Said I was up for Adoption?” may remember that the trigger that started our (mine and Ray’s) relationship was a simple nose touch. Just to further clarify, he decided to touch my nose with his, and not the other way around! It was initially a meaningless gesture on his part because I had no idea what it meant. Talking to the Humane Society staff later was the start of my canine education, and also the start of a whole new adventure in living!
In the winter that followed our adoption of him, he showed us that he could use his nose to point! Looking for his poop after a heavy snow fall was very challenging, until we let him take over. He would wander around in the snow, and suddenly stop and “point” with his nose. Voila! A brief dig down and there it was!
Taking him for walks with his regular treats (you never knew when they could be necessary) usually dictated his nose skimming the ground as he tracked scents. Have a special treat in your pocket (i.e. TimBit) and he is your best friend and stays really close (worked well in “loose leash” training!). He will also periodically nudge you with his nose, generally around the area of said pocket!
Sometimes we will put his dry food in a large Kong. This will slow his eating down a little, and also make him work as he knocks the Kong around the kitchen so that the food falls out (there is nothing delicate about the way he works that Kong!). There have been a number of occasions when, after emptying the Kong, he has shown a distinct interest in his crate. He would switch between pushing his nose against the bottom of his crate, and looking up at us. It turned out that there was a piece of his food under the crate and, while he could not get it on his own, he had certainly worked out how to get some assistance!
The first thing I do when preparing to take Ray outside first thing in the morning, is to sit on the end of my bed and put my shoes on. Ray is very familiar with this routine and usually stands very close to me while I am getting ready. He now seems to be giving me a “hurry up” prompt as he insists on butting me with his nose!
This morning, Ray and I were out around 8:00am as usual and, once we came back inside, I took my coat off and laid it across a chair in our kitchen. I had forgotten that in one of the pockets was a bag containing the remains of a plain donut which we had bought for him from “Timmies” yesterday. As I was getting my breakfast (Ray had finished his!), I suddenly noticed him totally motionless… and standing facing my coat! As soon as he saw that he had my attention, his nose went to work as he “butted it” against my coat pocket!
It is quite a remarkable nose when you consider not only how sensitive it is, but also how it can be used for communicating. It is rather exciting to now focus on his use of his nose, and wonder what else he might be trying to convey to us!