Basically I don't understand people who think that dogs are smart.

Before anybody out there takes offense, I want to make it perfectly clear that I respect and admire our Dog Friends very much. Often I do nothing but sit on my front porch and drink a Dr. Pepper while respecting and admiring dogs all day long. Right now the dog I enjoy respecting and admiring the most is Buster, the little white dog that lives next door.Buster does so many cool tricks I'm surprised he hasn't run away and joined the circus by now. This is a partial list of the dog stunts that Buster will gladly perform for you if you give him a free hot dog:

1. lie down

2. roll over

3. play dead

4. shake hands

5. "speak" (author's note: Technically speaking, Buster does not say any words other than "bark, bark")

6. dance around in little circles (author's other note: Technically speaking, this would mean that Buster is not related to the non-dancing males in my family)

7. crawl across the room flat on his stomach just like G.I. Joe

OK. The fact that Buster will do all of these things for a free hot dog would lead some people to say that he is a real "brain." To this I have only one response: If I crawled on my stomach all the way to R.C. Willey so that I could get a free hot dog during their Labor Day Weekend Sale, you can bet no one would start calling me smart.

Still, people persist in calling their dogs smart and looking for evidence that these same dogs are actually smarter than other people's dogs. I saw this happen a lot when I used to take one of my dogs up to the armory on Sunnyside for obedience training.

There were two groups of dogs at the armory: DOGS WHO DID WHAT THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO DO such as golden retrievers, Dobermans, German shepherds, shelties, poodles and yellow Labs (which were the darlings of the yuppie crowd who always made their dog wear cool bandanas as well as Birkenstock sandals) and DOGS WHO NEVER DID WHAT THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO DO such as Irish setters, English sheep dogs, beagles, Dal-matians and any dog whose ears or tongue trailed down to the ground. And my dog.

Here's the amazing thing, however: The owners of both kinds of dogs claimed that the behavior their own pets indulged in (i.e., compliance vs. noncompliance) was really PROOF OF HOW INTELLIGENT THE DOG WAS. In other words, the people who owned goldens and shelties would put their dogs in the sit-stay position, then roll their eyes and say things to each other like, "Is there anything on Earth as dumb as a Dalmatian?" while the people who owned Dalmatians would say, "What kind of a spineless, milquetoast, stupid dog would do something the very first time you told it to? We like our dogs to have a little bit of spirit!"

Sometimes I would get so fed up listening to everybody brag about the smartness of their pets that I just wanted to grab the instructor's microphone and say, "Excuse me, but don't you all realize your dogs drink out of your toilets when you're not around, and how smart is that?"

So anyway I certainly don't demand brilliance in my dogs. In fact about the only thing I require is that they like me better than they like anybody else. In this way I take after my mother who always says that she has to keep her dog, Houston, alive because (and this is a direct quote) he's "the only person I know who prefers me to your father."

The dog who liked me better than any dog I've ever owned was a smelly old cocker spaniel named Bogie. His extreme devotion to me made it easy to overlook his many sins, including that of gluttony.

Bogie loved food and he loved ferreting out new and creative food sources. I remember the night I walked into the kitchen and found him in the sink - my neighbor Kathy will tell you this is the honest truth - with his head stuck in the disposal because he was trying to get at some (m-m-m-m-m) morsels.

Anyway I screamed and told him in no certain terms that no one in our house was ever allowed to put their heads in the disposal except the parents if they wanted to, so he leaped out of the sink with the rubber ring from the disposal still stuck around his nose, which meant he went "bucking" and also "broncing" around the house trying to throw it off like he was one of those horses in the Days of '47 rodeo with the tight girdles. It was hugely entertaining.

And I'll take that over brains in a dog any day.