Thursday, August 16, 2012

Duke Canine Cognition Center trip #3

Bugsy and I were invited back to the Duke Canine Cognition Center a third time.
Now if you read about our first trip you would know that being invited back wasn't something I saw coming. I think that visit was my most embarrassing Bugsy moment ever.

But they did invite us back. And the second trip was less chaotic than the first but he still was full of his antics.  So when we received an email the other week asking us to come back for further studies, well, color me surprised.

Turns out though that they really do indeed like him there. For multiple reasons.
His eagerness, his swiftness in realizing the task, the fact he could care less where he is (this isn't really true as I think their setup with a zillion toys and nearly as many treats is his favoritest place in the world!) but what I mean is that Bugsy seems comfortable and curious no matter where he is.
He is also happy and loving and keeps the students giggling throughout.
He doesn't care when I leave the room he is ready to work and usually starts without them :)

This morning he looked particularly dapper:

A wonderful friend made him that scarf just for this occasion. The students got a good laugh from it!

Unfortunately today their video display in the waiting area wasn't working so I didn't get to 'see' him in action but I could hear everything.

I am not sure what the first part of the study was, but he was doing his job correctly and swiftly. Lots of 'good boys'.
I got the impression they were trying to trick him into thinking a treat was in a certain place but he wasn't to be fooled.

Then he came to see me again while they set up the second test. He was very intent on listening to what they were doing - I think he was cheating:

This time they put a barrier up and called him to one side where there was an opening so he could get to the student who had the treat.
They repeated that 5 times.

Once again he came and visited me while they rearranged the barrier, switching the side with the opening. The barrier was clear plexiglass so the opening was not highlighted in any other way.

This time they called him to come get the treat but he had to figure out that the opening had moved.
No surprise for me, he never even went to the previous side, he just flew through the opening to get his treat.

Afterward I was informed that he was the only 'pet' dog that had figured it out (nearly 60 tested) and that only a few service dogs had figured it out AFTER trying the side they had used previously.

So Bugsy the wonder dog (its a good thing he can't really get a swelled ego from all this) is the ONLY dog they tested that went straight to the opening after they had switched sides. Amazing!

Then they did one more test using emotional cues (excited, sad and monotone) to see how that would impact his response time.  He didn't get overly excited in response to any of those and performed the task at hand.

So overall another fun outing for us.
And another step closer to his degree