Saturday, August 14, 2010

Intelligence

Like humans, each dog falls into a certain spot on the intelligence continuum.  There are those that we consider "smart" and those that are...well, "vacant".  You know the difference when you see it.  For example, there are those dogs that seem to hang on your every word (like Miss M in this blog post from Two Pitties in the City:  http://pittiesincity.blogspot.com/2010/08/another-favorite-miss-ms-over-attention.html) and watch everything you do and can seemingly interpret every word, nuance, movement and look.  They are quietly taking it all in and processing.  These are the uber-intelligent dogs.  Those that we tend to trust with jobs like life-saving.  The same dogs that we have to keep our cookies away from, tucked away on the top shelf.  The other "duller" dogs are those who's lives are spent almost solely on panting, scratching, licking , zoning-out.  Rinse and repeat.

See, I don't believe it's only about trainability, or desire to please.  Having two incredibly intelligent dogs, I'm at an advantage for observing this in action.  (Some might call me a victim...)  I love watching these 2 very different dogs process the world from totally different perspectives.  

Nyxie, the German Shepherd - the ultimately trainable dog.  The dog that will ask "how high" while in mid-air if you tell her to jump.  Anything to make you happy.  And it really only takes one or two instances of repetition, and she's got it down.  "It" being just about anything.  Really.  She's that damn smart.  She's always watching, taking everything in and observing.  You'll look across the room and find her staring.  "What's next, Mom?"  Her emotional link is unmatched, too.  She can pick up on even the slightest variation of mood, and will react accordingly.  Genius, you say?  I agree!

And then there's Arwen.  Arwen, the Siberian husky, has a more primitive intelligence.  Her eyes track you, too.  Every move, sound...thought?  Arwen is the first one planted directly under you while you eat, laser-beam eyes intent on canine telekinesis..."Drop that bit of pork, damn you!"  She'll initiate indoor romper-room play bouts which eventually end in Nyxie getting in trouble for being loud as Arwen looks away, laying quietly on the floor.  Only her panting gives her away.  And when I think they're settled and turn my head, she'll play- bite Nyxie on the butt, resetting the game.  (It took me awhile to figure this one out, I was sure Nyxie being the youngest was always eager to initiate playtime.)  Arwen is even a better hunter.  She'll watch a rabbit from a few yards away, slinking low and then containing her burst until the last minute.  (Nyxie will have torn onto the scene barking)  One day Arwen's sure she'll shed the dead weight on the other end of the leash and actually catch one.  This isn't the dog that has any desire to return a tennis ball, or chase anything without a beating heart.  "You threw it, you go get it".  There is one exception to this rule - she has an orange "Chuck It" ball that is her favorite toy ever.  This she chews on.  No catching or returning thoughts at all.  She has this uncanny way of getting you to pet her, too.  She watches you and then suddenly flips over, demanding belly rubs.  Genius?  Yes!  

So here are two amazingly intelligent dogs.  One wants to please and the other to cuddle.  One hopes to learn a new trick today and the other hopes you'll drop some pizza.  One will bring over the ball for a head pat, the other will cuddle up and make herself irresistible to scratch.  Which one is the most intelligent?  I can't answer that.  It's like being book-smart and street-smart...who's to say which is superior?  I'm just glad they're smarties...I think.

"Honey, where those cookies I left on the top shelf?"

2 comments:

  1. How did I get in your post?

    Hugz&Khysses,
    Khyra

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  2. I can relate with Arwen's intelligence, you described it very well. Having 6 almost Huskies! Their smarts are much more conniving and it is about outsmarting the other. I agree that the operate on primial instincts. I used to have a lab/sheperd that I could play fetch for hours with and he never tired of it. But fetch with this bunch...ya, right.

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