Dogs may be smarter than we humans think PDF E-mail

Pet owners have been cast by non-pet owners as a crazy lot. After seeing the dollar figures on what pet owners spend on their animals, it is really not hard to justify the fact pet owners might actually be crazy. In fact, another figure has come to my attention that reinforces pet owners as a nutty bunch.

Did you know 94 percent of pet owners talk to their animals as if they are human?

It’s no secret in our family that the betterhalf and I carry on a one-sided conversation with our present dog Missy. One-sided conversations have gone on for generations with our dogs Jake, Ralph, Suzy, Shadow and Pickles.

Of course, one-sided conversations in our household have gone on for years between the betterhalf and me. Thus, we both are accustomed to the one-sided situations. However, it’s been said the conversations between pets and owners continue because we believe the pet hears us better than anyone else does. In our household I wouldn’t exactly say, “Missy hears better,” but does pay attention, at least momentarily to what I say.

We make fun of dogs, actually question their smarts and continually remind them they are “dumb dogs.” But what is wrong with this picture?

“We common folks try to train our dogs to be housebroken, not to bark and to stay off the furniture. All the while that “dumb dog” has actually trained us. We get up in the wee hours to let the dog outside. We feed him at certain times and brush dog hairs from the couch when we come home. In reality, the dog is laughing all the way to the dog food dish and other comforts of the home he dominates.

If you doubt the intelligence of your pet, all you need to do is read a recent article in the Smithsonian magazine. The story tells the accomplishments of national security dog handlers who train explosive detection canines, or bomb dogs.

We must emphasize these bomb dogs are a little sharper than the average pet and specific breeds are more desirable for certain duties. Our Missy is no slouch. For instance, I would be willing to bet our Missy could catch a rabbit faster than a federal security dog although she could get blown to bits thinking a pipe bomb might be a disguised dog bone.

“Dogs don’t speak English,” these trainers tell us, so the only way to communicate is through gestures and tone inflections -- i.e. Good dog with “Good” emphasized. Also, 35 percent of a dog’s brain is assigned to smell, while a human’s brain has only 5 percent assigned to smelling.

The trainers concluded by saying an explosive detection canine works for praise and for food, but mostly he works for the fun of it.

With tongue-in-check I still must question just how smart the dog is who works only for affection from his handler. Our good old dog Missy might be smarter still. Missy gets affection along with food AND doesn’t work at all. Just how smart is that!

RL Furse  is publisher emeritus of the News-Register

 
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