Steve Cardownie: Dogs aren't as clever as they think

I had cause to ponder the proverb 'look before you leap' when out walking my dog last week.

Tuesday, 21st November 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 10:00 am
Sheepdogs are famed for their intelligence. (Picture: Getty Images)

We were making our way around Arthur’s Seat with Cooper walking some distance ahead of me when I suddenly saw him jump over what was a small wall on this side but a considerably larger one on the other. He obviously thought that this was part of the wall that he had jumped over many times before only to land on a grassy knoll.

Knowing that there was sometimes a sheer drop on the other side I hastily made my way to the point of lift off, fearing the worst. On looking over I saw Cooper sitting some eight feet below, looking at me forlornly only a dog’s length away from the aforementioned sheer drop.

After two valiant, but ultimately unsuccessful, attempts to get back over he waited for me to resolve the problem.

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As he was sitting there wishing he was a springer spaniel, I started to speak to him encouragingly when I was overtaken by a passer-by.

Realising that I probably wasn’t talking to a gorse bush after all, he retraced his steps and asked if he could be of any assistance. At that point, I invited him to look over the wall where he saw this rather sheepish looking sheepdog looking up at him.

“No problem,” he said and hopped over the wall, whereupon he picked Cooper up and delivered him to my outstretched arms. After depositing him on the ground (the dog that is, not the passer-by) and instructing him in no uncertain terms to park his posterior, I turned and helped the dog’s saviour back over.

There he was met by an extremely enthusiastic Cooper wagging his tail and letting this tall stranger know just how much he appreciated the enormity of the debt of gratitude that he owed him.

The moral of the story?

Dogs are not half as clever as they think they are!