Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It Clicked!

Sometimes I wish I had a video camera recording every moment of every day. Most of the time, significant moments slip by under our very nose, their life changing importance going unrecognized until we later have time to single them out and say "Yes, that is when it happened". Rarely are we are lucky enough to witness a moment of significance as it occurs. Last night was one of those rare occasions.

Tofu and I had begun to work on some tiny thing...a little rubber ball I brought out and thought I might click him for rolling around.  His nose connected with the ball~click~treat. Then again. 

THE Moment

Suddenly Tofu stopped.

He became very still. No grunting. He looked at the ball. He deliberately touched it with his nose~click!~treat. He looked at me. Then back at the ball. Touch~click~treat.

In that exact moment: He. Got. It.

'Target' practice
It clicked.

In the great grand scheme of things, this is probably a very minor, some may even say insignificant moment in the world.

But consider, if you will,  what just happened...this pig and this human-two very different species- were suddenly speaking a common language.

At that moment, Tofu understood that HE was making the click happen.

This event brought to mind a story about one of my favorite childhood heroes, Helen Keller.

Remember the story of the water pump? It still gives me chills. Anne Sullivan, tired and at the end of her rope, yet still determined to teach the "unteachable" blind and deaf girl, marches her to the water pump and begins to spell the word "water" again and again into the reluctant, struggling Helen Keller's palm. Helen is fighting to get loose, when becomes very still as recognition dawns.

At that moment Helen Keller "got" the connection between the word being spelled in her hand and the flowing liquid. Click!

Okay, so maybe you have to be an animal training geek to see the connection between the two events. But honestly, I see similarities between that story I read so long ago and Tofu's "a-ha moment" of last night.

Helen Keller had lost both her hearing and sight by the age of nineteen months. Her world was reduced to one of scents and sensations. Her only means of communication, before Anne Sullivan came along, were simple gestures: push to go away and pull to come. Then, Ah-ha...this means "water"
and everything changed. With one simple 'click' a new world opened.

Of course, Tofu is limited in what he can learn. He is, after all, a pig. But his 'click' was no less significant to his personal learning process. He has now "learned to learn".

Take a look at this video. Watch carefully. You can see Tofu deliberately listening to the cues and actively participating: Link To YouTube Video

This tiny step is such a huge beginning- for both of us. Where will it take us? I can't wait to find out!

Happy Training!


  1. This totally made my day, Chris! I think I'm in love with Tofu. What a good pig! And what remarkable work you're doing with him too!

  2. Chris,

    WOO HOO! Go Tofu, go Tofu, go, go... go Tofu! Go Chri-is, go Chri-is, go, go... go Chri-is!

    This is a HUGE moment and I thank you for sharing it with me. Thanks to Tofu too!