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Selective hearing in puppies

landscape_116737369My 5-month-old golden Labrador girl displays a multitude of talents. In exchange for a tasty morsel, she will sit, lay down, stay, come, roll over, give a paw and play dead. She is not quite so good at reigning in her enthusiasm for meeting new people. She forgets to keep all four paws on the ground.

When striding across fields she loves nothing better than to run headlong through the long grass, ears flapping in the breeze. As soon as I call her back, she usually comes running, rear legs threatening to overtake the front set, skidding to a halt, eagerly awaiting a treat. Once I keep up my end of the bargain, she sets off again, hunting for the next thing to chase.

Today’s walk was a longer than usual so I took some sustenance with me. I have a weakness for crisps, especially cheese and onion flavour, my guilty pleasure. So there we are completely alone in the fields, peacefully enjoying a break in the weather, when a bird launching itself skyward from its hidden nest startles us. Without a backwards glance, puppy is off at full speed, gone.

I call her name, yell “Biscuit!” at the top of my voice as I run after her, clicking the training clicker (that usually works when my voice doesn’t), but puppy is having far too much fun to pay attention to her frantic owner. Breathless I sit on a nearby fence, deliberating my options. I settle for sitting still while she runs off her excess energy. I slide my hand into my jacket pocket, retrieve the crisps and pull open the pack. Inhaling the cheesy aroma, I delve into the pack; select the perfect first Crisp just as a bundle of golden fur launches itself into my chest. Unable to steady myself, I fall backwards over the fence into the wet grass behind me. With a whoosh, the air leaves my lungs as I stare up into the smiling face of puppy.

She may not be able to hear me calling her from across a field but she can definitely hear me open a packet of crisps. Selective hearing? Definitely.

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