Human Condition: Loyal dog shows master more than love

If you knew Susie, like I know Susie, oh, oh what a girl!

Susie is a 3-year-old black Labrador owned by Curt Dye. Curt and Susie live west of Baton Rouge on U.S. 61.

A bachelor, Curt is a well-known gun collector and friend to anyone who ever needed something moved, picked up by a truck, disposed of or covered over.

Susie is the third black Lab that Curt has owned, and he says she is the smartest. She is a perfect “watch dog” when someone or a critter approaches their home. But once Curt has welcomed a visitor, Susie is right there, awaiting a pat on the head and being part of the conversation.

Susie has the run of house and patrols Curt’s multi-acre property. She understands a multitude of commands and apparently what Curt is thinking about. She opens and closes the door to their home, has her own “open air” kennel on the veranda and responds to a litany of commands.

When Curt prepares to leave in his truck, Susie is ready to go. If not invited, she goes into her kennel and closes the gate. There’s no lock on it, but if the is gate closed, Susie knows she is supposed to stay there.

If Curt asks if she wants to go with him, she goes into a frenzy of activity, urging him to “hurry up.”

Curt may say “get my blue hat,” and Susie begins to scour the home until she brings a hat to him. Sometime he says, “That’s not blue, get my blue hat.” Susie is off looking for the right color.

When Curt and Susie are sitting on the porch in the early evenings, young rabbits come to the edge of the porch and feed on treats Curt scatters for them.

Susie sits on the edge of the porch, looking down on the bunnies as they hop around. She plays a little game with them sometimes, jumping up and making them scatter. She’ll romp after them, but in a few minutes, they will be back searching for treats.

All three of Curt’s Labs have been named Susie. And, all of his Susies have been taught to react to hand signals when they are “in the field.”

As they roam the terrain, a whistle will stop them, and they look at their master. A hand signal, this way or that, gives them a direction for their next movement. I’ve hear the phrase that some dogs are smarter than their masters. I wouldn’t say that about Susie … but Curt needs to learn some new commands!

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