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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Little Something New...

I'm going to try a different tactic tonight. A lot of you out there in the real world tell me you're reading my blog, yadda yadda. Well I want to see some audience participation. So I'm going to tell you a story, and then pose a question. I expect responses. You will be graded.

No, not really. But I would love to get a nice little conversation going with the class, so comment away!!

This morning, I had a lovely discussion with one of my clients about her dog's supposed musical inclinations. She's convinced that he squeaks his different toys because he enjoys the melodious sounds, and that he's secretly composing his own symphony. I'm making her sound crazier than she is- he really does seem to enjoy the various squeak pitches and there's something musical about the way he plays. That got us talking about cognitive abilities of dogs. In my various animal behavior classes, we were reminded to always take stories about seemingly human-like behavior in animals with a grain or two of salt. After all, our theories about the mental processes of animals can really only be surmised from our understanding of their outward behavior, and how it compares to that of humans. It's always possible that the reasoning we are attributing to animals is overly complicated, and a true behaviorist will be able to refute any cognitive theory with some drab simple behavioral explanation.

I was reminded of an incredible video I saw about Donnie the Doberman who appeared to categorize and arrange his toys. Every so often, stories like his come along that make me question how much we really know about what's going on inside our pets' heads! So the question I pose to all of you is this: what is your favorite example of an animal showing incredibly human-like thinking? It can be about your pet or just a story you saw online. If there are videos, post links so we can all see!


  1. I just wanted to comment so you wouldn't give me an 'F' however I cant really think of a story at the moment. Unless you count my cat attempting to open the patio door while standing on his hind legs and using the doorknob. But I think that's less human and more he REALLY wanted to go outside and I was busy.
    Alas, his lack of thumb made him unable to work the round knob and he was forced to spend the afternoon on the couch instead...

  2. My mom refuses to always be in a wheel chair. When she gets out she needs something or someone to hold her up. When no one is there do this our black lab mix stands behind her. When she inevitably falls on occasion, she falls on the dog, not the floor. The dog lays there as a pillow until someone can help her. The longest she sat there under my mom was just under 90 minutes.


  3. Sam that made me all teary-eyed. She's a good dog :)