Be careful what you wish for when you teach your dog to swim

Callie keeps getting better at her swimming. She can swim a little longer every time she goes out, and she keeps getting stronger. Last weekend, she swam from the shoreline of Lake Arrowhead out past our boat dock and into the “big lake” several times. We’re still keeping her on a long leash, so that there’s no chance of her taking-off into the boat traffic. But she does a great job of retrieving her “floppy,” and it looks like she’s glad to stay close to our dock and to Barbara, who is always in the water with her.


When we got back to our Lake Arrowhead home after swimming, we put a big bowl of water on the deck for Callie. It was in a plastic bowl that is about two feet across – not quite big enough for a seven month puppy, but almost. And the next thing we knew was that Callie was trying to swim in it! She was making big puppy “dog paddles” with her paws, and she splashed most of the water out of the bowl and onto the deck. At this point, we thought it was just cute that she thought the bowl was a place where she could swim.

Then when we got back to our real home, we had a bigger problem. We looked out in the back yard, and there was Callie trying to swim in our garden fountain. Now it looks like she thinks any little collection of water is a place to swim!





So how do you teach a dog the difference between a lake, a bowl full of water, and a garden fountain? So far, it looks like Callie has learned that water is for swimming, no matter where it is. Now, I guess, we have to teach her that puppy bowls and garden fountains are not swimming places. What do you do? Put out a sign that says “No Puppy Life Guard on Duty”?


Having spent some time studying how the human brain works, and trying to get computers to do some of the same things, I am fascinated to observe how the puppy mind works sometimes. I’m sure it’s essentially the same wiring and association-based processes that operate the human mind. Puppies may not have as many cells, or synapses, or whatever, but their minds are still pretty amazing.


I hope it’s not too hard to teach Callie not to swim in the fountain!


Last night, I saw the instinctive, empathetic and loving side of Callie. I had a small scratch on my leg. I’m not sure how I got it, and I didn’t know that I was bleeding, But Callie spotted it and “licked my wound” until it was clean. It was very sweet. She was completely focused on making me better.



Callie makes new friends everywhere she goes. She’s just incredibly outgoing for a puppy, and we’ve worked hard to encourage it. But she made some unexpected friends this morning. The main power line into our house broke, and the hot end of it sparked and started a small fire in our back yard. So we called for help, and the LA County firemen who responded were dog lovers. They put out the small fire and waited with us until the electrical repairmen arrived. While we waited, they played with Callie and just had a great time. They have dogs of their own, and they are an important part of their lives, too.


Woops! It looks like our power is back—about two hours later. That’s pretty good service, So. Cal. Edison! Thanks. So off the laptop and, hopefully, back to the desktop computer.