An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Friday, December 07, 2007

Do dogs plan?

Because we cannot communicate with dogs by language we deny them, and reserve unto ourselves, as a species, certain specifically soi disant  "human" traits. Consider the following: in the course of a normal evening Bridey will sit on Gill's lap. When she does this Molly comes and lays beside Gill to have her belly rubbed. This evening Gill was at her computer, Molly was hogging the sofa, and Bridey was mooching around unsettled. Bridey looked at Molly and slowly wandered around to stand beside Gill. She intimated that she wanted to get up on G's lap and looked across to Molly. As soon as Gill moved her chair to make way for Bridey Molly left the sofa and made toward Gill in anticipation. After a delay of perhaps a second or two Bridey ran to the sofa and settled herself smack in the middle of it and looked back at Gill and Molly.

Planning? It looked a lot like it to me.

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  1. I once knew a psychiatrist who found dealing with humans so distressful that she re-badged herself as a 'dog-psychologist' and wrote a so-called seminal book on the subject which became a best seller - though not amongst dog-lovers. In that book, she maintained that dogs didn't understand language because language was an abstract series of (auditory for dogs) symbols which couldn't relate to the real (doggy) world. Unsurprisingly, she couldn't explain how humans related to language either, yet despite her claims, there is no doubt that anyone who has actually dealt with dogs on a day to day basis can prove that they do understand the abstract symbols called words. How else can two sheepdogs called Flo and Mo distinguish between their respective names and act accordingly?