It doesn’t get more all-American than Labrador retrievers as far as dog breeds go. They may not have been developed here, but according to the American Kennel Club, they’ve been ranked as the most popular in the USA for the past several years in a row.
If you think of the quintessential American family, a golden retriever might come to mind, but while they also rank high on the list, we’ve gone to the labs.
And who can resist them? Generally affable, Labradors have been to go-to breed for pets as well as guide dogs and service dogs.
The dog that is the focus of this story is not American, but Colombian. His name is Negro, and he’s a black Labrador or mix of some sort with a stumpy tail.
Having wandered into some kind strangers at the Diversified Technical Education Institute of Monterrey Casanare, the pooch was given his name and a home on campus.
He’s kept his post for five years, and has become a familiar sight at the school. During some of his schmoozing, he discovered a wonderful place known as the campus store.
Some kind students would occasionally buy him a treat there, so he soon understood that delicious things came from the store.
It looked simple enough: students wandered into the building, found an edible item they liked, and then went to the front and made an exchange. They would hand the cashier something and would get food in return.
It wasn’t long before the pup had the system all figured out, and decided that he could participate, too. So he jumped in and made his own exchange.
One teacher, Angela Garcia Bernal, described Negro’s first attempt at “shopping.” “He would go to the store and watch the children give money and receive something in exchange.”
“Then one day, spontaneous, he appeared with a leaf in his mouth,” she said, “wagging his tail and letting it be known that he wanted a cookie.”
It was a success! He’d leveled up and unlocked a new skill!
One store attendant found his antics absolutely overwhelming. “When you first see it, you almost want to cry. He’s found a way to make himself understood. He’s very intelligent.”
Now he’s a daily customer, and he has no idea that the leaves he picks up aren’t as valuable as cold, hard cash.
“He comes for cookies every day,” said a store attendant named Gladys Barreto. “He always pays with a leaf. It is his daily purchase.”
It would be nice if that method worked for everyone. Meanwhile, there’s a very happy pup in Colombia munching on a treat that — to his knowledge — he’s paid for fair and square.
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