Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Brisbane Plays the Piano

Today Brisbane learned how to play the piano. Yesterday I set out to teach Sisci this trick and learned that she was worried about the slightly wobbly piano bench. While we were addressing that issue, Brisbane volunteered to hop up and at least hover a paw over the keys. Today I invited him up onto the piano bench and he started offering gentle touches.
Red heeler plays piano

It's is pretty adorable, he carefully touches the keys instead of just randomly waving a paw or stepping on the keyboard. Holding a sit on the slippery bench while raising a paw requires quite a bit of core body strength, and I'm pleased he is feeling good enough to offer this behavior. Brisbane is very good at communicating when he doesn't feel up to something, mostly by offering other behaviors and acting as if he doesn't know what I want him to do.

Having Brisbane so excited to learn a new trick is, frankly, amazing. He has bone cancer, and had his first round of chemotherapy six days ago. He felt a bit ill for a couple of days, and has improved dramatically since then. He is definitely happier than he was before his surgery a month ago.

I saw "play piano" listed as a Trick Dog Title trick, but I only looked it up in the trick book this evening after training time. Turns out the official trick is to get the dog to stand with both front feet on the keyboard, and alternately lift their feet up. I think our version is much cuter, and nicer to the piano as well. The finished trick probably looks like several paw touches in a row on different keys, maybe alternating feet. Having Briz hold a sit while using both front paws is probably too much to expect, but I'm quite proud of him already. Here's his piano trick after about five minutes of total training time:

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