Sunday, August 16, 2009

Canine Intelligence

At the University of British Columbia, Stanley Coren (canine expert) conducted intelligence tests... The findings revealed that dogs can learn as many as 250 words including signals and gestures... but read on...

Basic Math

The language tests put our canine friends on par with a 2.5 year old child, but it turns out they can trump a 3 or 4 year old in basic arithmetic. Here's how the math test works - the dogs watch as 1 treat and then another is lowered down behind a screen. (1+1=2) When the screen is removed the dog expects to see 2 treats. If one is removed or a third added, the dogs looked surprised and stare longer. This proves that they understand the concept of addition.

Social Skills

Now we are up to about the levels of teens. Dogs, being very social animals, are keen on knowing who is moving up the pack, what the others are doing, who hangs with who and that sort of thing.

Basic Emotions

Dogs know when they are being treated fairly. In this test one dog is given a treat and the other is ignored. The unrewarded dog avoids making eye contact with the trainer. Interestingly, the dogs do not seem to care about 'equality' - if one dog is given a piece of meat and the other a piece of bread there is no difference in the reaction.

Top Dogs
Border Collies
German Shepherds
Golden Retrievers
and your dog... of course

If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them. ~Phil Pastoret

the blind dog and his best friend and guide.

Bonnie and Clyde - the blind dog and his best friend and guide.

Intelligence can be measured in many different ways.

Sure, you can give a dog a 'math test', but here is a story that transcends 'intelligence'. Bonnie and Clyde Bonnie and Clyde are two dogs recently rescued in Great Britain. They had been wandering in the countryside. Clyde is blind from a degenerative eye disease. Bonnie 'guides' him and when they are together, you cannot tell Clyde is blind - but... remove Bonnie- and Clyde will not move. Cherie Cootes, from the rescue centre, said: "If Clyde's unsure where he is, he will suddenly go behind Bonnie and put his face on the back of her so she can guide him, he totally relies on her." "And when she walks she tends to stop and make sure he's there - she does look out for him." For me, this story signifies what dog 'intelligence' is really all about - not only are these dogs intelligent (these dogs are pretty smart to work out a guidance system) but faithful friends and companions - willing to help each other - no questions asked.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Folk Art Dog

For those of you who love dogs and whimsical folk art - Natural Canine owners Michael and Marlene make these wonderful wood folk art pieces.

This one stands about 11 inches tall, made of wood and hand painted.

You can check out other folk art at

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The River Severn in Great Britain (one of the most dangerous in the country) is the home of a handful of skilled fishermen, who along with their trusted canine companions, follow centuries-old customs to catch salmon, bass, gray mullet and shrimp.

The fishermen use a rough fashioned 'lave' net with a frame made of willow attached to an ash rod. When the tide falls the fish trapped in the shallow pools panic and try to swim to deeper water. The lave nets are used to catch the fish as they make a break for the deep pools with the rising tide. Great skill is required to work in a river full of slippery rocks, fast tides and quicksand.

How the Dogs Help

As the tide rises, another type of net is used called the Gill Net. The Gill Net is unravelled and the dog takes one end of the net and swims across the river.

The dog releases the net over to another fisherman who secures the net, now ready to catch the fish.

This is great fun for a working dog