I have read with much interest the recent literature on the subject of how smart dogs, birds, dolphins etc. might be. It seems that while dogs and humans are textbook examples of both Darwinism and a successful symbiotic association, in some ways, dogs have gotten the short end of the stick -to use an apt metaphor. Compared to wolves, our pets are dumb as posts and -not to put too fine a point on its -pussies.
When I first read this -or saw it on PBS or where-ever, I was a little troubled by what lab-coat guys had to say. You can’t pick up a Reader’s Digest with out reading about some brave dog who saved some (human) member of his pack from some dire calamity at no small risk to himself. I like the motion of a heroic dog better then the notion of the pussy-dog, but you can’t argue with science.
But what prompts this ‘ticular dog-blog was an every day incident that occurred this AM while I was tending to chores in the back yard. Our dogs –we have a main, large, & extra-dumb hound, an emergency back-up medium-sized terrier, and an auxiliary little Scotty that alternately ignores and hides from me– attend me to varying degrees when I am in the back yard. They all try to help. Or try to understand. Or just piss on it if understanding eludes them. They do this for a few minutes anyway, before they drift through the dog-door back inside where it is either cooler of warmer depending on the time of the year.
This morning, T. J. -our main dog- was looking at the dog door. As I finished what ever minor task of the moment, I happened to look again and saw that TJ was still looking at the dog-door. For all I know, he may have been watching an ant crawl by and was pondering pissing on it. In his fuzzy wee brain, he might well have debated for some time, because he knew pissing on the house was a bad thing -unlike pissing on the hot-tub 2 feet away, which despite my best efforts to discourage, remained in all our dog’s minds, not a bad thing.
Or he may have had a plan that involved going inside and as he got to the door, he forgot why he was going inside. (TJ is a sweet dog, but not the smartest in our little pack. And the bar is set pretty low in this particular pack.) Now I may be guilty attributing human motives to animal behavior, but heaven knows, I do this all the time. Usually at the top or the bottom of some staircase. And usually when I get there and have realized I have forgotten why I schlepped there, and I stand there with a dumb look on my face. A look just like TJ’s. Usually, after my dumb-look-moment, bad language and an angry schlep back up or down follows.
TJ, however, lay down in the morning’s sun and took a nap. Admirable wisdom I think.