One Smart Cookie


Is it possible that dogs understand the English language?  If so, then my puppy, Jellybean, would be considered a high achiever, at least in the canine world.  She has all the normal conversational words down pat; go potty, walk, leash, treat.  However, my smart little cookie comprehends entire conversations.  Case in point; yesterday as I was preparing to do laundry, I looked at Jellybean and said, “So…what did you do with my sock?”  Ever since she was a puppy, Jellybean has slept with my socks.   She lays claim to them as soon as I take them off.  Therefore, I would naturally assume she would know the location of my blue sneaker sock’s partner. She looked up at me with those big black eyes, as if to say “Well, how would I know?”  Then, she suddenly turned and ran down the steps.  As I was putting the laundry in the washing machine, Jellybean came running out of the guest bedroom, my blue sock dangling from her mouth.  Wow!  That is downright amazing!

This evening Jellybean was stretched out in the middle of the living room floor, a pout on her face and some serious dog whining going on.  “What’s the matter Jellybean?  Isn’t anyone paying any attention to you?  Why don’t you go get the bone you hid this morning after breakfast?  Remember, you didn’t have time to eat it before I had to leave for the morning.”  And just like that she took off like a hound dog chasing a rabbit.  Two minutes later, she came trotting back into the living room, bone clenched tightly between her shiny white teeth.  A minute later, the crunchy bone was history and Jellybean was once again a happy camper.

All I have to say is “Jellybean, the cows are out!”  She comes running.  She heads for the sectional sofa, the chaise to be exact and positions herself on the edge so that she can watch the cows that have gathered by the fence in the shade.  She is fascinated by their tails that are constantly in motion as they keep the summer flies at bay.  Me?  I am just amazed that I live in the suburbs and have cows in my backyard and have a dog that understands where the cows are busy shading themselves.

When sitting on the sofa in the evening, I look at her and ask, “Jellybean, did you talk to Lambie today?”  She looks at me, head tilted, then looks at the lamb-shaped pillow pet on the floor in front of the television, looks back at me, and takes off.  She sniffs at Lambie’s ears affectionately, pulls at her with her paws, almost like she is fluffing her up, then, pounces on her fluffy friend.  It is a nightly ritual.

How does she know what I am saying?  I have correctly assumed she picks up on some key words, such as sock and bone.  According to Animal Planet, the average dog can understand somewhere around 165 different words.  They can actually learn all kinds of words, especially if they are associated with concrete actions or objects.  I’m sure Jellybean has mastered at least 300 different words, as she is definitely smarter than the average bear.  It never ceases to amaze me, though, how she appears to listen to my conversations and know what I am talking about.  No doubt, she is one smart cookie!




Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

To Collar, Harness, or Halter. Oh my!


The recent biting incident with Jellybean and her high level of anxiety when confronted with loud noises such as fireworks and thunder storms had me rethinking the type of dog collar I was using on her.  As an over-protective dog mom, of course I want her to be safe.  I noticed she is able to back out of her collar and even her harness when startled by a loud noise, such as thunder.  Thank goodness in the several instances where this has happened, I was alert and immediately made sure her collar/harness was in place.  This resulted in me doing some research on different types of collars.  I honestly did not realize there were so many styles and each served a different purpose; rolled or flat collars are quite easy to slip on and off your pup.  Unfortunately, as I have discovered, they are not escape proof. Martingale collars look like flat collars, but they tighten when a dog pulls.  The good news is that they can be adjusted so that at their tightest, they cannot cause choking.  I actually use this type of collar when Jellybean and I are doing therapy work.  It seems to signal to her that she is working. Pinch collars, choke chains, and head halters are generally used for more serious correction issues.  This is not an option for my little princess.  There are quite a few harness options as well, such as front attaching, easy walk, walk-in-sync, and freedom harness

Who knew? During the time I was researching, I began seeing some ads on Facebook for a harness that intrigued me.  I liked the sturdiness of it, especially the chest strap.  It is considered to be a harness that is escape proof, even for a little Shichon like Jellybean.  The shape of her face is such that she has a short snout, which makes it much easier to slip out of a harness such as the easy walk, with its’ narrow straps.  I actually used the easy walk when she was a puppy.  I think we went through seven of them before I gave up.  Because she has a short snout it was easy for her to wrangle around until she had her nose out and the harness in her mouth.  This made for some great teething sessions, much to my chagrin, as she chewed the heck out of the harnesses.

The new harness is awesome.  It is sturdy, fits like a gem, and gives me a sense of security when we are out walking.  The design is such that a strap goes behind her front legs and across her chest, similar to others.  The chest and belly straps are approximately two inches wide and made of very heavy material, which prevent her from being able to back out of it.  I especially love that it has a little handle attached to the top of the harness.  You never know when a tornado, or at least a small wind storm, might strike and you need to hang on to your puppy for dear life! I am happy to give the company a shout out, as this Pug Life Harness has saved the day for me and for Jellybean!  Did I mention they come in a plethora of colors?  I ordered three; light pink, dark pink, and purple.  They look beautiful against Jellybean’s bright white coat.

Now that I have worked out the harness issue, the next predicament is; which leash should I use with each of the harnesses?  The black leash, with the flowers in varying shades of pink, looks lovely with both the light and dark pink harness, as does the leash with the pink stripes.  But wait!  She also has a leash with little pink and purple polka-dots.  Oh my!  That accessorizes nicely with all three.  The purple paisley will pair nicely with the purple harness.  Oh dear, as I peer in her closet – mind you this is her new closet at our new house, complete with cubbies and clothing rods – and look through her collection of 15 or so leashes, I am excited to see that I chose her new harness colors well.  There are so many options for this trend setting little pup.  How to choose, how to choose?  Jellybean, can you give your mama a little fashion advice here?