A master manipulator with a clock in his head, Chance the dog proved today that he is also self-disciplined and aware enough to practice delayed gratification.
Maybe you’ve heard about the 1972 Marshmallow Experiment? Researchers gave 4 and 5 year old children a marshmallow, then offered them a deal. If the child didn’t eat the marshmallow when the researcher stepped out of the room, they would be rewarded with a second one. Then the researcher left the room for 15 minutes. As you might expect, some kids couldn’t wait while others held out and won that second marshmallow. Then the researchers followed the kids for the next 40 years. The study found that the children who could delay their gratification had more success in all facets of their lives.
When I return to the house after feeding the barnyard crew lunch each day, if Chance has accompanied me (some days he chooses sleep), we stop at the closet at the bottom of the stairs so I can give him a dog bone cookie. Invariably, he grabs it excitedly, races up the stairs, finds a good hidey hole, and munches it down. Yesterday as usual I reached into the box, grabbed one, handed it to him, then walked around the corner to check on the laundry. When I came back a few minutes later, he was still sitting at the bottom of the stairs and so was his cookie, on the floor in front of him! That’s when I noticed I had given the poor little fellow 🙄 a broken one.
He stared pleadingly at me, and I more or less automatically reached back into the closet, grabbed another, whole cookie, and handed it to him. He accepted this one excitedly, and was off, racing up the stairs as usual to eat in private.
The little bugger had held out for the bigger snack and got me to deliver. I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised. After all, Chance has managed to overcome:
- Being stray in LA
- Passing unscathed (!) through a high kill SoCal shelter despite resembling a stubby pit bull
- Going on a long road trip, destined for an island off the coast of another country
- Sojourning for several weeks with a bad cough at a USA border control health care facility
- Immigrating, then accepting a temporary home at a dog rescue
- Participating in saving a confused elderly dog on a busy country road
- Lucking into an impulse adoption by a recently bereaved dog owner collecting daughter’s said elderly dog at the Gowland Todd trailhead
- Having all his American medical bills paid by his new master
- Ending up in his current comfy berth as much loved lap dog, master of his domain and noble chicken guardian.
And he’s only just turned five!
Dear Chance has had a pretty successful life so far. I guess he’s also been smart enough to make at least some of his own luck, as all truly capable folk do.