Sometimes Luc’s smarts work against him. He’s afraid of the sound of thunder, and during a stormy summer like we’ve been having, he seems to study the circumstances that correlate with thunder so he can anticipate the scary event and hide in the bathroom before it comes. Unfortunately, his correlations aren’t always accurate, and the anticipatory fear can become paralyzing for him. For a couple of weeks, we seemed to be getting thunderstorms almost every evening, shortly after dark; Luc decided he didn’t want to go out for a last pee break before bed if it was raining, thunder or not. Before long, the rain was no longer necessary — he didn’t want to go out in the evening regardless of the weather.
If I begged and cajoled him, he might step outside with me, but he was way too anxious to pee. After a few days of this, I remembered that Luc can take great comfort from being connected to me by a leash; I clipped one on to his collar, and he immediately relaxed and followed me outside to relieve himself. This became our new routine, but a couple of days later, he stopped cowering as soon as I pulled his leash off the hook by the door. I carried the leash with me (not clipped to his collar), and he happily followed me out to mark his usual bush. Carrying the leash worked for the next 2 days, but yesterday, Luc started to hesitate once he got outside. When I showed him that I had the leash with me, though, and he once again relaxed and got to business.
I’m not quite sure how to understand Luc’s behavior except as mastery of an abstract concept, that a leash in my hands represents comfort to him. In any case, I’ve started hiding my credit cards.
Tagged: abstraction, border collie, intelligence, leash, Luc, scary, thunder