Penny is still very confused with Beth away. Of course we are taking full advantage of her confusion too, by saying things like “Bedtime!” or “Brush your teeth!” or “Your milk is ready!” or “Bathtime!” Whenever we do this, Penny assumes that Beth must have materialized from thin air and that we are ordering her about. Penny thinks it’s her job to make sure Beth does as she is told. So she springs into action and starts running around the house looking for her charge. As Bugs Bunny would say, “What a maroon!”

I think she really understands some of these words we use, because exactly what she does seems to very much depend on what we say. “Bedtime,” “Bathtime,” and “Brush your teeth” cause her to run to the foot of the stairs, as those activities take place upstairs. “Food’s ready!” makes her run into the kitchen. “TV” makes her run into the living room (she barks at the TV whenever anyone turns it on). She also reacts when the timer on the microwave beeps, because that means that the food is ready. The toaster popping up also summons the dog immediately, because that means the same thing (i.e., Beth’s food could be ready).

If she were a stupid dog, she wouldn’t understand any of this. But instead, she does understand it. What she doesn’t understand is that Beth cannot simply appear in the house. Scotty cannot beam her into the foyer. But she must think that, so she springs into action every time. If she weren’t so smart, she wouldn’t look so stupid!