I don’t expect my dogs to be smart. I don’t expect them to learn tricks. I’ve only had one learn to sit up, and she was just doing that to beg for a cracker. And rolling over isn’t about playing dead. It’s just a way to get a belly rub. Plus teaching basset hounds is supposedly quite tricky given their stubborn nature. At best, we’ve had one that was crafty, although when it comes to sneaking food I think every basset hound is.

After six months of living with Snickers, though, we’re realizing that he may be on the lower end of the brainiac scale. For example, I’m not sure he knows yet his name is Snickers. He is clever enough to sneak food if we’re not around, and he can reach it. We came home last week to an empty granola bag and what we assumed would be a very regular dog for the rest of the week. He also knows what the words dinner and breakfast mean, but which dog doesn’t?

All of which is fine. As I said, I don’t expect my dogs to be smart. However, what truly worries us is that Snickers seems to lack a complete understanding of depth perception.

There’s nothing quite like watching a 50 lb. basset hound launch himself at a piece of furniture only to slam into the side instead of landing on top. And while that’s been amusing on more than one occasion, it’s starting to impact our living room furniture. Or at least the layout of it.

More than once, in a fit of excitement because we came home or he just needs to burn off some energy, he has run into the living room with the intent of jumping onto the ottoman. And completely missed. He’ll get close. Just not close enough to prevent the ottoman from shooting across the floor and crashing into a chair, the other ottoman, or the potted plant. Or sometimes all three.

If he’s lucky enough, he’ll land half on, then once things have stopped moving, scramble the rest of the way up. But usually he just ends up on the floor, recouping and then trying it again. And once we’ve stopped laughing, we’ll provide some help if needs it. I would chalk all of that up to him just being excited. Except he has missed more than once while sitting still. 

To be fair, our last dog Boo reached a point where if you tossed her an ice cube, sometimes she would catch it. Sometimes it would just bounce off her head and skitter across the floor. However, the poor girl wasn’t working with the best vision, at that point so I think she had an out when it comes to judging depth.

Not that I should be critical of anyone in that regard. Being an architect, I think we develop a keen sense of when something isn’t quite right. The first architect I worked for walked on to a job site, looked at a row of light fixtures, and decided correctly they weren’t in the right place. Quite surprising the electrician didn’t thrown something at her as he moved every fixture over a half inch.

And I’m not insane. I don’t expect my dog to have that type of accuracy. However, as a hunting animal, I would hope that when he decided to pounce on something, he’d actually land on it instead of missing by a foot. That seems like a sure way to go hungry in the wild. Or in our case, knock over as many pieces of furniture as possible in a single leap.