As a farmer, watching your dogs, cats, cows, sheep and chickens exhibit intelligent behaviours is no “biggie”. It’s just something that happens every day. I must admit though, there seems to be degrees of intelligence between the breeds but basically all animals are smart in their own ways.
For instance, the female cattle run crèches for their offspring just as we human’s do. And, cattle can be just as selfish and lazy as humans by delegating the job to the youngest mother of the herd, like it’s a right of passage into cowhood. I’ve blogged about that before. Cattle will come to the fence and bellow if something is amiss and we farmers just go and see what the problem is. It’s us humans that don’t have enough language ability to understand what the cow is saying.
I owned an cat when I lived in the city and she used to play with her toys inside my apartment and then I’d tell her to put her toys away and in the box and she would open the lid and place each toy in her toy box. She used to play fetch and retrieve and she knew many of the words I used. I always thought this very normal.
My dog, Zak, knows a multitude of words and my husband and I often make fun of counting up all the words, Zak knows and joking about the inability of the researchers to figure it all out in their so-called “studies” for science magazines and the like. It’s not about how many words the dog can learn. It’s about how patient and persistent the human master is at teaching the animals the words. If you kept a human chained up outside and only spoke to them as you gave meals then that child would less likely to learn many words either. Why is this so hard for the “experts” to understand?
Where do they get this idea that a dog is limited to say 200 or so words? The dogs are limited by the researchers sadly.
Here at, Mountain View, we don’t very often use commands with our dogs, we just tell them as you would another human being, what we want or need them to do, and it gets done. And, just like children, at times they don’t want to do what you tell them and they get hurt feelings if you growl at them for making a mistake. It never surprises what Zak or Benson understand, it’s just expected.
The most frustrating part of owning a dog is their limited lifespan. When a new dog has to be trained it’s frustrating because you expect the new dog to be as good as your older dogs were. But alas, the new dog has to be taught all those things just as we did with Zak and Benson. It doesn’t take long but it’s very frustrating.
I usually never bother to speak (or blog) about these facts because it’s just a normal part of a farmers day and didn’t seem very significant to me. After reading this article it makes me wonder how long it will be before humans accept that animals are intelligent and stop trying to prove it to their minute little brains.
When are they going to do a study on the ability of humans to understand animals languages? I’d like to see the results of that study!