We have a monster in our house.

The monster is packaged in a black and white Whippet suit, and she is named Kaisa.

As a pup, Kaisa was a small, hyperintelligent, asocial, easily aroused, vicious punk of a dog who would launch across a room to bite you if you woke her up, touched her toys, touched her treats, or touched her food. She was difficult to housebreak and was wildly and creatively destructive. She is still wildly and creatively destructive and easily aroused, but now she is much more social and has not bitten anyone for many years. She stopped laying into people when she was around 5 months old. She is still vicious, but now in a funny sort of way.

She sets traps for the rest of my dogs.

Here is one trick she used quite often for a while. There is a doorway between two rooms, the living room and the dining room. Kaisa would put a treat, such as a rawhide or a smoked bone, in the middle of the doorway. Then she would crouch down to one side of the doorway so she was hidden from view, and she would wait, silent and intent. She would often wait for several minutes, with her whole body tense,ears up and forward, tail straight out behind her, pupils blown out so far you couldn’t see at all that her eyes were actually brown. She was waiting for an unsuspecting member of my canine family to come by and take notice of the treat. Here was the typical sequence of events..

An unsuspecting victim trotted into the room, spotted an unclaimed, unattended, delicious treat sitting in the doorway. The dog happily trotted towards the treat, and then, at the moment when the victim made contact with the treat, they were lept at by a 20 pound ball of snarling black and white fury. All noise, no actual contact. The victim invariable jumped out of his or her skin, and Kaisa then grabbed the treat, tail high and hackles up. The victim usually recovered and trotted away. Kaisa, with pupils blown, treat tightly clenched between her jaws and tail jacked up so high that it actually curled over her back, then paraded around for a brief time, often seeking out the other dogs, shoving her treat in their faces and then growling at them. She then would settle down by herself to chew on the treat. Yes, she has always been very lucky that the rest of my dogs tolerate her.

Kaisa pulls her trick of carrying around a treat, shoving it in the other dogs' faces, and growling at them when she has been chewing a treat for a while, then stopped and appears bored with it. After shoving the treat at a dog or two and growling at them, she then will settle down to chew the treat with renewed vigor. She will also shove the treat at people and growl at them if they reach for it. Yet, you can actually get it away from her with no problem.
She will also take a treat into a room where there is another dog and place the treat in front of the other dog. Then, if the dog makes a move towards the treat, she will growl at them. Using this method, she has sucessfully trained some of my foster dogs to “Leave it” while in her presence. One dog I fostered would not even touch the treat if she entirely left the room. The only way he would take a treat was if I handed it to him. My resident dogs are much more immune and do not take her hijinks seriously, because they have had time to figure her out. Kaisa is a bully as it turns out, and she is also a terrible coward when it comes to any actual confrontation.

Kaisa has always been a bit of an oddball. She is the most intelligent dog here and has shown a propensity to want to affect the world around her from a very young age. One of the things that moved us to keep an antisocial 10 week old puppy with guarding issues and no bite inhibition, instead of tossing her into the nearest clump of high speed oncoming traffic (kidding) was her propensity for engaging in what appears to be scientific exploration.

When she was 11 weeks old, Kaisa started experimenting with gravity.

My husband, Arthur, started digging a hole at that time in the yard, telling me he was tilling the soil in preparation for the addition of tomato plants. For this, he dug a hole about 5 feet deep and 10 feet wide. The soil from the hole was deposited in a cone shaped hill next to the hole. This was where we found that the horrid little beast we had brought into our lives had some redeeming qualities.

About three days into the hole digging effort, we were all out in the yard together, Arthur in the hole and digging in it, me watching in skeptical bemusement ( not unfounded, as it turns out that no tomato plants ever appeared) and Kaisa just wandering around on the pile of dirt Arthur had created. The pile of dirt had grown to impressive proportions. At some point in her wandering, Kaisa looked down and noticed that her walking around was causing little cascades of dirt to fall into the hole. She looked down at the little cascades, watching them. Then she very deliberately pushed one front foot down, causing a clump of dirt to roll down the hill and into the hole. She paused for a bit, then used both front feet to push dirt into the hole. She was very alert as she watched the dirt fall into the hole with utter concentration. Then she executed a series of piledrivers, shoving a lot of dirt into the hole. We learned then that when Kaisa is “thinking” her body goes very still, her ears on alert, sometimes a furrow on her forehead between her ears, tail forgotten and hanging down behind her, mouth usually closed (unless she is panting).

The next day, we noticed that there were objects in the hole that we had not put there, a ball and a stuffed animal. We thought nothing of it; maybe they had just fallen in. Then, a few days later, we saw Kaisa standing at the top of the stairs to the yard, deliberately tossing a ball down the stairs and watching it go. She repeated this several times over the next few days, tossing things off the stairs and watching them fall.

Then we started finding household objects on the sidewalk in front of our house - a chew bone, a toy gun, a ball. Every time we came home from a jaunt outside where we did not take Kaisa, we found something new on the sidewalk that belonged in our house. Shutting the window on the front of the house effectively ended Kaisa sharing our belongings with the rest of the world.

Thankfully, Kaisa's basic explorations into the world of gravity ended around that time. Apparently, she had found out enough about it. And we kept her and kept working on the asocialness and the biting, not because she was any nicer or more cuddly, or even because she had stopped biting us which she had not, but because by showing us that she could actually think, she had made herself fascinating.

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