"Surprises" are the fun part of adopting an adult dog. I'm not talking about the "surprises" it might leave on your carpet while you're at work (hasn't happened to us yet, knock on wood). I mean trying to figure out the dog's past and why it behaves the way it does. We sometimes ask our dog, "Did you have babies?" or "What food did you eat?" or "Why do you stand on your hind legs when we say 'sit'?"
The only detail we really know about Gianna's past is that she came from the Wenatchee Humane Society by way of Twisp, a tiny town tucked behind the North Cascades.
Last night, I randomly said something in Spanish and noticed the dog's ears perk up. It struck me then that a Hispanic family might have raised her, which would explain why she doesn't respond to some basic commands despite her clearly good training.
Right then, I rattled off a lot of Spanglish: "por favor," "taco," "gato," "Mexi fries," "qual es tu numero de telefono," "pero," etc. Her ears continued to perk up either because she understood me or was confused by what I was saying. That's one more option than I usually get.
After the reaction ramble, I focused, got her attention and commanded "sientate" (sit), which I recalled Moos saying when she was about to serve dinner or I was blocking the TV. I responded well to the command myself, after some repetition.
Immediately, Gianna sat. I have a Spanish-speaking (or understanding) dog! Bueno! No wonder she wasn't listening to me before, she didn't understand English!
It's a good thing we named her with a romantic-language name otherwise she might have denied it! All this time, I've left the TV on ABC or NBC during the day when she'd rather preferred Telemundo!
She reconfirmed the discovery later when I let her out the front door. Usually, I let her out and she just sits on the porch and waits because, like most women, she likes to take a friend along with her to the bathroom. This time, I commanded, "baño" (bathroom) and she popped a squat right then and there!
Now, this could all be coincidence. She really pays attention to everything I say, even if she doesn't adhere to a command. She hadn't been outside for several hours and drank a gallon of water before she went to the bathroom. Also, tone is everything in a command and I'm sure I could say "Lady Gaga" in the same tone and she'd sit and shake.
Still, given her reactions last night, she understood something. Or at least she's bilingual. Collies are smart like that.