Monkey See, Monkey Do

Niko was almost 2 years old when I rescued Rocky. I remember watching Rocky learn from Niko – things like where he should go to relieve himself (outside), how to shake and high five, how to speak, and so on. Niko also taught him some less favorable habits like scratching at the back door when ready to come in (though Rocky tended to – and still does occasionally – head butt the back door) and demanding treats. After seeing how Rocky learned from his “big brother,” I always thought that if I was going to have another dog, I would want to get one while Rocky was still able to “teach” him (or her) the lay of the land.

Rocky was almost 12 when Jacques came into our lives. I figured that our old dog could still teach our new dog some tricks. Jacques’ potty re-training went very well (and happened VERY quickly). He simply followed Rocky around in the back yard and peed on everything Rocky looked at. Okay, one lesson learned! We were having trouble getting our “independent” Westie to follow commands such as sit and shake, so I used Rocky as an example. I would have Rocky run through the exercises getting a treat each time in hopes of sparking some interest in Jacques. HA! Yeah… no. Jacques either wasn’t catching on, didn’t care, or felt that these “parlor tricks” were beneath him (I’m guessing the latter) because there was no response from him. I gave up on Rocky (or me or my husband) teaching him anything. Then over a short period of time I noticed something…

Rocky has a habit of lounging on the overstuffed chair or ottoman in the office when I am working. (Actually he’ll do it whether I’m in the office or not. It’s like it’s his personal mini-sofa and lounge area.) One day, I turned around and saw Jacques lounging on the chair. He had stretched his little rolly polly body as far as he could, taking up as much chair as possible. While I thought it was funny, I didn’t think too much of it.

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Rocky also has a habit of lounging on the ottoman (which is positioned right next to a window) and resting his chin on the window sill while looking out the window or catching a snooze. This is a standard spot for him. While working one day, I heard something behind me. I turned around fully expecting to see Rocky getting comfortable at his window post, but instead, I saw Jacques at the window trying to stretch his little neck so that he could rest his chin on the window sill while lounging on the ottoman. The sight of it was so cute, funny, and ridiculous all at once, all I could do was laugh!

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I began to see a pattern…

Rocky often sleeps on the cool tile of the bathroom. I walked in one day to find Rocky on the cool tile and Jacques on the warm, fuzzy bathmat.

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Rocky sits by the back door as his way of telling you he needs to go out. I now often find Jacques sitting there waiting to go out. (It’s much harder to see Jacques sitting by the door since the view is blocked by a large recliner.) Often, I’ll find them BOTH sitting or lying there waiting to go out.

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Rocky will scratch at the back door when he’s ready to come in. If I don’t let him in right away, he’ll bark and lay down to wait. One day I heard a strange sound coming from the back door and… you guessed it!… Jacques was sitting there waiting to come in. (I didn’t actually see him scratch the back door, but that’s what it sounded like!) And we now find him sitting at the back door whenever he’s ready to come inside.

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So I guess given enough time, Jacques did begin to learn things from Rocky. Maybe not the things I had intended or wanted him to, but he was learning nonetheless. Jacques FINALLY learned how to shake! I don’t know if it was from watching Rocky or from the constant “shake!” commands that my husband and I gave him, but he’s doing it now. We’re trying to get Rocky to teach him to speak on command. That’s another uphill battle – because unless there’s a bird, leaf, cloud, or gust of wind passing by, he won’t bark. But we’ve learned that for these dogs it’s “monkey see, monkey do” so we’re going to keep trying!

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