You might think that a dog's life is rather uncomplicated, but that would be a mistake. A dog's life is incredibly complicated due in large part to their tendency to 'live in the moment' or in other words 'forget about almost everything that happened yesterday'. This means that each day is a glorious new day of discovery unencumbered by such things a 'learning from one's past mistakes'.
So the things you learned yesterday are new and ready for you to learn
them again today. Every day is an adventure with this framework and my
dogs live their adventurous life to the fullest. I on the other hand,
watching their antics 'get' the whole 'memory' thing and am often driven
to distraction with my little canine duo's exploits.
Take for example this scenario:
You want to go outside and your human has every intention of letting you
outside as indicated by their body language, their actual language
("Let's go outside") and the fact that they are making a bee line for
the back door. You indicate your comprehension of this impending
outside-ness by 1) running back and forth between the back door and the
human in ever increasingly small sprints because they are getting closer
and closer to the door, 2) jumping up on your human in such a way you
actually push them back from the door they are trying to reach, 3)
positioning yourself in the way of the backdoor and spinning, spinning,
spinning so that your feet slap against the top of the washer and then
against the back door and potentially the human who is trying to reach
the back door, 4) ignoring every command to sit, quiet, back as you
increase your frenzied attempts to go out through the closed door, and
5) cramming your body so tightly against the back door that it is almost
impossible for your human to actually open the door.
One might think that in your roughly 13 months of being let out that
door without any resistance would register on your brain as an event
that was 'going to happen' so you need not act like a frenzied gopher
doped up on caffeine. But apparently, this is one of 'those' times you
are 'in the moment' and unable to actually make long term memories.
It isn't just the Border Collie who has the short/long term memory
deficiencies. The Westie has had a full 8 years of counseling that
consistently reminds him to not 'chase the cat'. He gets reminded of
this prior to each and every time he goes out the back door. I say
"Lewey, No CAT!" in my most booming and top dog voice. He looks at me
like "Yeah, right, I know, I know, 'No cat' - I get it". Then, each
and every time he goes out he seeks to 'chase the cat'. I often am
following him out and grabbing him as he is desperately chasing the cat
his mind fully absorbed in a primal game of Westie the Vermin Chaser. I
then shout at him, "NO.... NO... NO CAT!" If I don't actually have my
hands on him he will seek with every atom of his being to chase the cat
in spite of this. When I do lay hands on him it's like he is jerked
awake from some incredible fantasy and he looks at me like "Whoa! What
are you doing here?"
So I am thinking that an actual Dog Diary would be filled with many
repetitious entries along the lines of "Today, I went OUTSIDE!!!" and
"I ate FOOD!" and "Mom said I wasn't supposed to chase the cat... since
when??" No actually that last one would never make it in because that
would indicate that he actually comprehends that I don't want him to
chase the cat. He cannot comprehend a world in which a cat would not be
chased. Of course he is going to chase the cat. That is what you do
with cats, even the ones that you like. So, no, the dog diary would
never have that entry.
Another thing the actual Dog Diary would not have is any reference to
any reprimand whatsoever. They would never talk about 'getting in
trouble' because that kind of occurrence evaporates from their brain the
moment it is over. There is a reason that reward systems of training
work so well. That is the only thing they can actually remember. There
would be multiple, multiple entries along the lines of '...and I got a
treat!' or '... and then Mom told me I was gooooood!!!'
Of course what they think they are being rewarded for is not always what
I think I am rewarding them for. Positive reinforcement encourages the
behavior that was happening right before the reward was given. This
can be very useful if you take a long view and realize that you are
steadily approaching perfection. This is especially true if you have a
'smart' dog, for example - a Border Collie. They thrive on positive
reinforcement and that reinforcement can come in many forms.
Sometimes all it takes for me to reinforce my Border Collie's behavior
is a look. You might be thinking 'Wow that must make her easy to train'
and in a certain way you are right, it is just that what you might be
'training' isn't always what you want. For example, this 'look' reward
is what she gets when she interrupts me when I am using the laptop on
the bed. I will be in the middle of say, writing a blog entry, and she
will position herself just to the right of my gaze. A single paw is
extended to 'tap' me on my arm and as soon as I look into her eyes she
gives me this smile, which automatically causes me to smile back and
then I have a puddle of Border Collie squeezing between me and the
laptop. She is so ecstatically happy that I looked at her she is
oblivious to any other command. My only defense is to keep my eyes down
when she gives me the 'tap' and then I can command her to do something
So definitely in her diary there would be multiple entries of 'Mom LOOKED at me!!!'
Ah well that is all for now... she has tapped and now I am typing over a squirming dog.