Czr the Pit Bull is incredibly handsome. And — since he has a healthy self-esteem, and knows how to talk — he’ll be the first to tell you.
Human mom Cathy Dmitroca tells BarkPost it’s nothing new for her fetching pooch to gaze with admiration at his own reflection.
“Czr has actually always spent a good portion of time looking at himself in the mirror,” Dmitroca says. “When he gets a new treat, toy, boots or other clothing item, he tends to run to the mirror and check himself out.”
Luckily, he needs a lot of boots and clothes because the family lives in chilly Calgary, Canada.
But Czr is so much more than a mere beefcake. He’s a smart boy — who doesn’t just want to talk about being incredibly pretty.
Mr. Beautiful also answers questions like “Do you want a cookie?” and “Did you miss me?” and “Do you love me?” with nods and grunts — communicative utterances that Dmitroca believes are actual expressions of Czr’s real thoughts and opinions.
Czr gets political from time to time, too, weighing in on breed-specific legislation, or BSL — laws that ban or restrict dogs by breed, most often affecting blocky-headed pups like Czr himself as well as his adopted sister (the more camera-shy Octavia).
For the record, Czr said he’s against BSL.
“Czr is brilliant. I fully acknowledge my subjectivity on the topic, but there is not a day that goes by where his intelligence doesn’t surprise me,” Dmitroca says.
There is strong evidence that dogs can in fact understand language. And neuroscientist and animal intelligence expert Lori Marino, founder of The Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, says it’s not impossible to think that Czr may in fact be “talking” — making expressive sounds and gestures that reflect the thoughts in his mind.
“It is conceivable, yes. I don’t know if that is what he is doing but I think it is conceivable,” says Marino. “I think it is within a dog’s abilities to understand something about ‘response’ in communication. He probably doesn’t know that these responses have a linguistic meaning but nevertheless he may understand something about conveying meaning in a give-and-take communication.”
Two dog trainers who watched Czr’s videos were rather disappointingly a little more bearish on the topic, telling BarkPost they think he is responding to Dmitroca’s encouragement instead of actually speaking his mind.
“I don’t see him giving any yes or no answers,” says Gutshall.
“It’s just one of those quirky behaviors that has been rewarded — whether with attention, food, access to something — and the dog has caught on,” says Andrea Kilkenny, owner of Our Gang Pet Services. “I wouldn’t knock it, it’s cute.”
We can live with cute. Czr himself would probably even describe himself that way, given the chance.
For her part, Dmitroca says that Czr’s responses are indeed communicative — and come as a result of six-and-a-half years of intensive training.
“I think people often underestimate the amount of work I’ve put into Czr,” she says.
For example, Dmitroca may ask Czr 12 times a day if he wants to go out for a walk. And every time he nods yes they go — meaning a dozen walks per day, if that’s how many times Czr says yes, so that he learns the associations between Dmitroca’s words, his gestures, and the real world.
“Every day I worked on building his vocabulary,” Dmitroca says. “I stand by his training. If you ever come to Calgary I invite you to come ask him anything you want yourself!
This story has been updated with quotes from Dmitroca about Czr’s training.
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