THB Timmons

Theresa Timmons is an Elwood resident. She can be reached at

They say that dogs have a short-term memory span of 10 to 20 seconds. I guess that means a dog quickly forgets what he had for breakfast, or what he got in trouble for the day before.


I have two dogs, Hank the Mutt and Sherman the Peek-a-Poo. Both dogs are considered to be seniors, but Sherman is the oldest. He is 13. He is white with a little apricot mixed in, and he has a serious under-bite. His teeth are crooked, he has old-age moles, liver spots, fatty tumors, and big brown eyes.

Sherman is a crotchety old man-dog, set in his ways, entitled, irritable, and always, always hungry. In his wee little brain, he owns the house and the rest of us live there to work for him. We let him out when he asks, feed him regularly, and subject him to occasional grooming.

He is manipulative and conniving, and probably the smartest guy in the house. His memory — both short- and long-term — is better than ours.

I can prove that. Because I have a Sherman case study that I call “the trash can incident.”

We have a few simple rules for our dogs: Do your business outdoors. Sleep in your own doggy bed. Don’t try to have an intimate relationship with our guests’ legs. And above all, stay out of the trash can.

The trash can rule is apparently the most challenging one to obey. And admittedly, the trash can at our house is often overflowing. My husband Seth can balance things on top into a pyramid shape, and we have to walk gently to prevent an avalanche.

For Sherman the Peek-a-Poo, it is a potential ‘Old Country Buffet.’ But he knows the trash rule (long-term memory) so he has to sneak.

One day I was sitting in the living room, and I heard Sherman’s toenails click-click on the hardwood in the kitchen. His face peered around the corner of the open doorway between the kitchen and living room. We made eye contact for several seconds, and then he disappeared back into the kitchen.

A few minutes later I heard the click-click again. His protruding jaw and big eyes peeked around the corner. We made eye contact. And he disappeared again, back to his unforgotten ‘project.’ (short-term memory)

I had the distinct feeling he was checking on me – or on my location.

I waited.

He appeared a third time.

That’s when I noticed the brown goo on top of his head.

The problem with dogs, even those with a good memory, is that they aren’t as smart as they think they are. And what Sherman didn’t consider in his effort to avoid getting caught was the contents of the trash.

Seth had placed a huge, not-completely-empty container of chocolate ice cream on the top of the trash. Upside down. As it melted, it dripped on the floor — which is probably what Sherman was enjoying. But it continued to drip on his head while he licked the floor. Unfortunately for him, there was no mirror.

In the end, Sherman had to have his gooey chocolate head shampooed. But he also proved that he has a remarkably evolved memory.

I’m hoping to train him to help remind me to grab my lunch and my blood pressure pill every morning before work.

Theresa Timmons’ column appears every first and third Sunday. She is an Elwood resident and can be reached at

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