Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Intelligence of Dogs

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I need to start this blog with a warning to all my pet lover friends. Here is the LINK for the 49 brands of dog food being recalled. Some really famous brands here. There are 41 brands of cat food being recalled HERE.

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Yesterday on the Today Show, they had a segment plugging the book, The Intelligence of Dogs.

The piece explained that most dogs have a vocabulary of about 165 words making them about as smart as a two-year-old human. I immediately started to wonder about the intelligence of my former dog, Maggie. She was my personal hero, having saved my life once. I used to look at her and tell her, "I love you so much! You make my heart go pitty pat."

This phrase would send her tearing out of the house onto the deck... searching for a kitty cat.

So I was rather interested in the test that Meredith Viera's dog failed on the show.

The first is to show the dog a treat and then hide it under a can. Most dogs assume the treat is simply gone and lose interest. Not Miss Mabel (Yeah!). She whined and moaned and went into full on drama queen mode finally settling down a few feet away from the can letting out these plaintive cries every now and again. I realize she thought she might get in trouble for hurting the can so I knocked it over and quickly replaced it. She came over, slapped the can with her paw and got the treat.

This was supposedly the easier of the two tests but I find the next one rather easy and was sure Mabel would pass this one:

Hide a cookie under a kitchen towel. Apparently a lot of dogs have the out of sight, out of mind thing going on. But Mabel definitely has a prey drive and is really a scent-driven dog. She did not miss a beat. She came right over, picked up cookie and towel, decided she didn't like that, dropped it and started "digging" at the towel until the cookie was hers.

So yay! My dog is of above average intelligence!!! I had my doubts. As an example of what I think of my dog's intelligence, I submit to you a composite photo I had to build in a photoshop class project. Please look for the deer in the photo.
I have seen the scenario time and time again, most recently with a bunny. Mabel is chasing the critter in one direction and the critter somehow gets behind her. And Mabel is usually oblivious to it all.

But, at least for now, I can hold my head up high and say with all honesty, I have a smart dog. And it will be believable - just as long as no one sees her trying to find a critter at the creek.

2 comments:

Velvet Sacks said...

Okay, I had to try this as soon as I read it. Butch didn't get the can thing at all--but he's blind, so he couldn't see me put the treat under the can. Kadi seemed to know exactly where the treat was, but her saintliness wouldn't allow her to knock over the can. She'd look from the can to me, then back to the can, then stick out her paw to "shake" for the treat.

Butch found the treat under the towel in no time, dug it out and ate it. Kadi found it, too. She'd nudge the edge of the towel with her nose but wouldn't mess it up more than that. Once again, she resorted to the "shake" thing. I don't know how smart Kadi is, but she's genteel.

CreekHiker said...

Velvet, I think Kadi is plenty smart... she just has that angelic thing going on. Both your pups are very smart. Gosh, when I think of what Butch has to compensate for just to navigate life daily... Wow!