writer, warrior, whack-a-doodle

If the Shoe Fits

If the Shoe Fits

December 16, 2010
Posted in: Dogs | Reading Time: 9 minutes

Oddly with a title like that, this post is not about Juno! It's about Loki.

Mr. Wild Dingo often comments that I portray Loki as dumb. Then I remind him that it was he who nicknamed him Retardo Montalban. And as much as I'd love to use that name on this blog, I know it is a wee-bit politically incorrect. But it sure doesn't stop me from using it at home.

And no, I'm not one of those people who doesn't take the time to do any consistent training with a dog and then shrugs and says, "My dog is stupid because he doesn't know how to (fill in the blank)."   The truth is Loki is wicked book-smart. All I have to do is get out a few training tools and he's in. He loves to guess at what I want from him and it's very easy to teach him anything. Inspired by the Jack Russel on YouTube doing house chores, I taught him to shut all my kitchen cabinets in less than 20 minutes and transfer it to other doors and drawers in the house. And if I had more time, I would teach him tons more and he would love it. He learns very fast and has a very long memory. Unfortunately for him, I just happen to run out of ideas of what to teach.  He's in it for the self-esteem of learning more than the reward. Unless the reward is a tug, then he's in it for that.

For example, the other day I retraced our walking trail from the day before because I lost my hat. Loki, having done a little SAR and article search training, immediately found it. I didn't even ask him to, he just did his job and as soon as he caught the human scent he pointed/alerted to it.

"You want me to find your hat again? Geesh, this is such a no brainer."
In the above photo, he reinacts the find. The hat is just around the corner to the right.

"Hmm. This smells like you Mom!"  Someone had found it and placed it on this post.

"Hey mom, I'll trade you, a tug for your hat!"

This time (during the reenactment) instead of laying down by it or picking it up to bring it to me (both acceptable behaviors), he grabbed it and played with it. Serves me right for leaving my rewards at home. And that's why my hat is dirty.  Sigh. I wish he had a better owner. He could be a better dog.

Juno on the other hand, takes much longer to grasp anything I'm teaching her. Though she's equally motivated to learn (she leaps from her down when it's her turn to learn whatever I'm teaching that day), it just takes many more repetitions and she often resorts to prior tricks that get her a reward. By the way, she is EXCELLENT at search. But that's another post.

Their minds are completely opposite of eachother. Juno's not book-smart. But boy she has a lot of common sense. And this is where Loki is, well, for lack of a better term, Retardo Montalban. For example, just look at all the effort he goes through to reach a very simple goal because he's, well Retardo Montalban.

"Oh My Dog! That water is moving! It's gonna get me!" Loki squeals on his brakes and turns around at the first sign of the wee-waves.

"Must dig...must dig!"
Near the water's edge, he gets silly. I have no idea what he's up to.

"Crap! I'm outta here!"
The wave comes in and he bolts. Juno mean time is calm as a cucumber and strolls through the water, taking the occasional sip from the cold, clear, clean Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).

"Get back Lac Leman-ness Monster!"
Juno's all, "WTF is your problem dude?"

"I'm outta here again Princess!"
"Seriously Big Boy?"

"Must dig! Must dig!"
I still have no idea what he's up to. At this point, I think he's just being compulsive and acting out some anxiety. Which is not uncommon for him.

"I know it's down there!"
"Ok, now I'm intrigued Big Boy. Did you SAR something again?"

"Hey Mom, can you believe this joker?"
"This is no joke Princess! I'm serious!"

"Ok, I give up. Why did you dig so hard in order to do your SAR thing?"

"I'm so thirsty! This is so delicious."
"You're kidding me, right?"
Without a doubt, he specifically dug a whole in order to get a drink of the water from the lake without going into the scary lake, dog-forbid he should get his feet wet or the boogy-man in the lake should get him.

"You mean to tell me you did ALL THAT WORK just for a drink of water that you could have gotten less than a foot away without any work?"
There was no doubt in my mind he had that goal from the very beginning with all the water he drank.

"Yes but Princess, the Lac Leman-ness Monster is constantly moving that lake and he's gonna get me!"

"Oh Big Boy, you know I tease you about the Lac Leman-ness monster, right? I mean, you really believe my tale?"

"Tale or no tale. I don't like all that movin' around that water does! And this water here is delicious."

"Ok, you convinced me. Maybe I should try it and see if it's any better than the lake."
"It is Princess! Because the Leman-ness Monster is not moving it!"

"Dude, it tastes exactly the same over here. And the lake isn't even moving that much."


"No way sister. I'll just stick to my controlled water source, minus the Leman-ness Monster!"

And with that he sprang into his favorite yoga pose.  Remember from his days in Santa Cruz, his side crow poses?


Well here it is from the back side:

And this is why we proudly call him Retardo Montalban. And we mean that in the nicest way. (wink-wink) Bien sur!

In Cooking News

The chicken marsala rocked! Early culinary critics agree. The chicken and mushrooms melted in my mouth. I used a very expensive dry Italian Marsala. I actually opened the bottle to try it though I had a bottle of Marsala already opened.


Unfortunately my risotto did not. The recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and that was way too much so it tasted bad to me, but it would have been passable had it not been for the pepper. In addition, this particular risotto was supposed to come out light and flaky and this came out sticky, which also passable for risotto but it would have been nice if it were light and flaky. It was my first risotto. I knew it was not a great side dish for the Chicken Marsala, as the flavors were too different, but I wanted to try it anyway.


The  Marsala is definitely a keeper. I'll probably add some butter next time to lighten the color of the sauce. I don't even like chicken much and I had a hard time sharing it with the critics.

Mr. Wild Dingo is traveling, that meant the second piece went some for the critics and some for left-overs.  Four paws up from the critics!

And Finally some Reader FAQs

No meat stock?
Technically I have found chicken and beef stock. It came in a small jar of barely two cups of stock and it seems more concentrated than stock I'm used to. It was $6 for that small jar! There are no Swansens over here. Serendipitously, I found out that the Swiss were the one's who invented the Bouillon cube.  Seriously, the makers of Nestle were the first to put it on the market. As Chef TravelMax pointed out, "I'm not surprised. Another Swiss efficiency." Unfortunately for real cooks, this is one efficiency that is a faux pas. So I bucked up and paid $6 for the two cups of stock. Since it seems quite concentrated, I added 2 cups of water which is fine for Risotto.

Are Juno's Gold Beads Not Working?
Yes and no. We've seen moderate changes in her behavior and pain. But its not enough for us. We'd like to see more and so we are back with the holistic doctor. But it's likely we'll be going down the path of THR soon. It's just a matter of exhausting holistic options, especially since it's the holidays, there's really not much we can do now until they are over and guests who are coming are gone.

Are there dog parks in Switzerland?
NO! Not at all! The Swiss are not at all inclined to let mere humans make judgements about whether their dogs can be off-leash. For real. And I have to say I don't disagree with them.  I have a love-not-love relationship with dog parks.  I prefer very large open parks with  very little visibility of where the fence line is and tons of walking trails where Loki can casually say hello to other dogs (which he does well) and keep on walking with me rather than fret about who's coming into the gate and acting like a lunatic (and not a good way). I think most of the U.S. does a poor job with dog parks and the ones they have probably should not exist. On the rare occasions I do go to them, its usually for training or for a play date at a low traffic time.

And finally: Are you just trying to make us all sad? All the beautiful scenery AND good food.

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14 comments on “If the Shoe Fits”

  1. Loki's advanced yoga pose is priceless. I would characterize him as stupid smart. Sure, he was afraid of the water, but he was pretty clever to dig out his own little water bowl. He just has more supersitions than Juno, right? Don't get your feet wet, stuff like that.

    Mango Momma

  2. Great job Loki!

    As fur Juno: way to go making The Wild Dingo Woman think woo need ALL those EXTRA moments with her to learn stuff!

    She hasn't figured out woo are just trying to keep her out of trouble and away from Les Shoppes Des Chokholats!

    PeeEssWoo: The Khat Marsala looks furry tasty!

  3. Oh, I totally believe your interpretation of his motives!It is funny though in a self-preservation sense I have heard most dogs prefer to drink from moving water- supposedly an instinct that avoids water where bacteria have been able to proliferate but I guess avoiding monster water is important too! Such a funny boy!
    That name is hilarious IMO. I seriously feel for learning disabled people who are mocked and support being conscious of language to an extent but I can handle the complexity of separating the word from the sentiment and it is just plain funny!
    BTW totally impressed with his SAR abilities! I bet my current foster would excel at that with ALOT of training. He sniffs things like he is snorting cocaine sometimes!

  4. HAHAHAHAH that was so funny! Id love to see a video of Loki digging to get water! I don't know if I'd call him dumb though... just... different smart. hahaha.
    We say that Darwin isn't that bright. We can put a jug of water in the hallway and she wont realize she can walk around or over it, and will stand there whining til someone moves it for her.

  5. 'Retardo Montalban' HAHAHAHAHAHA! *ahem* I actually think digging the hole to get water without having to enter the Loch Geneva is pretty clever. Although Juno's pretty clever by training you to give her a lot of treats before she does what you want. No dummies there! 😉

    (As a total aside, my dogs are not as well behaved as they could be simply because I don't work with them consistently. They aren't bad dogs at all - they just have a lazy owner. *sigh* "Hi. My name is Liz and I am a bad dog owner. I don't own bad dogs, I am a bad owner." I just felt the need to get that off my chest. I feel better now. Thank you. However, I should note that they aren't demons, just a little undisciplined.)

    The Chicken Marsala looks Most Excellent, and we are very impressed with your food critics; maybe they should review local restaurants, too. Yes, I'm totally kidding. I can see you walking into a restaurant with the dogs and being promptly ejected, and a warning sent to every other restaurant in town.

    And on that note, I feel like I'd better actually cook a real dinner for a change! 😉 And yes, you are succeeding with the scenery and food pictures. If I didn't live in a land of snow-capped mountains myself, I'd be crying right now! 😀

    -Dr. Liz (and not Fiona, although she'd be interested in applying for a job as food-tester, if you need a third critic...)

  6. Loki does seem very smart. It is fun to see how all the dogs have different ways of learning and interacting with us as well. Glad you found your hat by the way. 🙂

  7. HO HO HO HO It is the Christmas season, after all.
    Thanks for the update on the Gold Balls thingy. Sorry they aren't workin like you had hoped.
    Hummm well that water down did take the price per oz. down a bit. I guess that is SOMETHING.
    The dinner looks and sounds delicious to me.

  8. Loki, that's my laugh for tonight! Morgan is not that spooky, thank goodness, but who knows when some whim might take her. Seeing him with the water and his elaborate solution to the problem is priceless!

    I have got to stop looking at all this food! Gah!

  9. Great reflections on your two, very different dogs.

    I've noticed different kinds of "smarts" in my dogs over the years. When we stop trying to make all our dogs smart in the same way, we can finally see their wonderful unique characters.

    I loved Loki's demonstration of problem solving.

  10. How old was Loki when you rescued him? Mama wonders if his reaction to an open body of water and his method of getting a safe drink is a reaction to a prior experience. Obviously what he's doing makes sense to him. He seems filled with joie de vivre, like Abby.

    Sorry the gold beads aren't doing much for Juno. Hope the holistic treatments help, at least in the interim.

    You seem to have very happy food critics, so your culinary experiments are clearly successful. We'd be happy to volunteer, too. Mama doesn't cook at all.

    Jed & Abby

  11. In some ways, Loki reminds me a lot of R, just as you wrote on my blog. So smart, so full of energy, and so ready to learn. But, they both have to be managed, managed, managed. In R's case, he has to have daily training of new games to keep him mentally stimulated so that he doesn't create his own mental stimulation (like by drinking a gallon of water at a time and then going out 5 times in the next hour)!

    I love the digging a hole to get water next to the huge, much cleaner, lake water 🙂

  12. Loki seems so good-natured about it all... A little OCD maybe, but then, who isn't? (at least in my house!)
    Juno is just being Siberian. She knows darn well what new thing you WANT her to do.... she just hasn't decided to do it yet. Hope things work out for her hips.
    Your chicken looks delicious!!!

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