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My very lucky brother-in-law is in town to see Hamilton with his wife, so their dog is staying with us for the weekend.

Today being Saturday, Harpo was excited to play his favorite game. On weekend mornings, I hide treats around the house, and he searches for them. It took him a little while to learn the game, but now he absolutely loves it. Of course he loves getting treats, but I really think he enjoys the work of searching. I’m not sure if it’s the change in wake-up time or coming downstairs in my pajamas that tips him off, but whenever I don’t go to work, he gets very excited and does everything he can to tell me it’s time to play the cookie game.

I love watching him try different strategies, often using the lazy strategy of looking in places I’ve hidden treats before (we have a small house, and we’ve played this game many times, so it’s a pretty effective strategy) but other times, depending on how much light is available and how stinky the treats are, using his nose to track my progress through the house. He has learned various strategies to trick me into showing him where the treats are, too, so the game has evolved over time as he comes up with new ways to win and I work out new ways to keep the game interesting for both of us.

With two dogs this morning, I wanted to make sure Harpo got a few treats, and that Baci didn’t follow me around, eating each treat as I set it down, so I locked both dogs in the kitchen while I hid the treats. (Harpo has a solid “stay,” plus he knows how the game works, but Baci needed a gate to keep her from cheating.) I took out some shrimp-flavored treats we had received from BarkBox and never opened, and I hid a few more than I usually do so that there would be enough for both dogs.

It turns out that because Baci usually only gets treats when she’s being crated, she ran straight for her crate when I moved the gate. I had placed one treat near her crate, so she grabbed it on her way in. I tossed a second treat in there for her and left the door open. She took a minute, having evidently never encountered shrimp-flavored treats before, and eventually sat down to enjoy both treats slowly, which gave Harpo time to hunt around the house and gobble down the rest of the treats I had hidden.

When Harpo informed me that he had found them all, I checked his work and went to the kitchen to get him his prize, which today was a kale-flavored treat (also from Bark Box.) Baci, of course, followed us into the kitchen and insisted that she deserved a prize, too. So I handed her a kale treat.

She put it down and looked at me. I swear she was saying, “Why do all the treats smell funny in this house?!” Then she ate it up and followed me into the living room, where she jumped on the back of the couch and snuggled up to my shoulder to watch the Olympics.

Dogs are the best.

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Cuddly dog is cuddly.

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