OK, today I decided that Lily should learn to ring a bell for her food.
You see, one of the owners of the store where I teach just got a new puppy. She has been training the puppy to signal when she needs to be let outside by ringing a bell. The bell is hanging in a bag near the front door. When the puppy rings the bell, it's apparently quite cute.
Well, gosh darn it, Lily is smart, too! She could surely learn to ring a bell for food! After all, she is always hungry. And she already knows to scrape the wall with her sharp claws when she wants food, and sure enough, I come running. (Wait -- maybe I'm the trainable one...)
Anyway, today I put a few jingle bells into a bag and positioned them near her food bowl. Over and over, I put Lily's paw on the bag. "Ring the bell!" I would say pleasantly each time. And when she jingled the bells, she got a morsel of food.
But Miss Lily, smart as she may be, wouldn't ring the bell on her own. For whatever reason, this has been a difficult concept for her to grasp. Tinsel, on the other hand, hears the bell and comes running, but she won't touch the bag either.
Finally this evening, Lily bumped the bag a few times with her paw. I could not tell if she was mentally making the connection between the bell and the food or just moving it out of the way. Clearly, this is not a skill that can be learned in a single day.
After working on this little experiment, I think perhaps I need to get a different kind of bell. Here's why: When I throw treats to Lily, she always smacks them to the floor with her paw. If we had one of those bells that sits on a counter, I think she'd be all over it. The constant "DING! DING! DING!" might get a bit irritating, though.
Daughter suggested that I just post a sign: Please ring for service. We'll try that tomorrow.