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ARE DOGS INTELLIGENT?
September 9, 1982


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PIX #1 - Tippy, Paul Krupp's mixed breed (more toward the beagle side) canine, performs a couple of tricks, but turned out to be camera shy. She wouldn't "sit up pretty" or play ball as she normally does.

Author's Note: This article was written months ago, to provide variety for readers.

Since then, there have been a number of letters to the RT editor about the abuse of animals, those letters resulting from news stories about that subject as related to local incidents. So it seems fitting to use today's article to further establish the place dogs should have in our society and relate how near-human they can be, as shown by our dog, Tippy. However, I must say that the accompanying photos did not turn out as planned. Dogs are somewhat like children who do not always behave as expected. Tippy didn't want to show her expertise playing ball, sitting up pretty or any of her other achievements in the presence of the RT photographer.

"Man's Best Friend" is a title someone bestowed on dogs a long time ago.

Not everything said by many about dogs has been good. Some people think dogs are OK if they get in their rightful place, meaning not living in the house with the family, getting little attention of any kind, and whose main value is to scare away prowlers. I happen to believe dogs' role is more than that and they deserve better treatment than that.

Further, I believe dogs are part of the animal kingdom created by God, that man was commanded to have dominion over them: "And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creep- eth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after one likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air; and over the cattle; and all over the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." (Genesis 1: 25-26).

Then when the great flood came, God told Noah to take every species of the an- imal kingdom into the ark and preserve them, along with human life. When God said "Let them have dominion," he surely meant that man was superior and was to rule, but also to be in charge of their welfare, that they could fulfill their part in the creation. To me that means that they should be properly fed, housed, not let run wild and used according to their individual capa- bilities.

Now back to the question: Are dogs intelligent? Do they have intelligence? Webster defines intelligence: "capacity for undertanding, and for other forms of adaptive behavior."

WEBSTER'S DEFINITION

The only thing I know about the intelligence of dogs is what I have observed about them in our home and from "dog stories" in publications and on televi- sion. From that point, I'll let the technical side of the subject to the "experts," and tell you mainly about our dog Tippy.

Tippy came tolive with use about seven years ago, one of a litter of puppies who had a mother with ancestry unknown, father beagle, but not full-fledged. Tippy was the pick of the litter by our granddaughter Amie. Since our daughter already had more dogs than she needed, Amie proceeded to influence us to take Tippy, but it would still be her dog (correction--part owners).

Tippy wa the easiest puppy to housebreak of any we ever had. After feeding and occasionally in between, we took her out and in no time she went to the door and whined when she wanted out.

The first night or two after she arrived to make her home with us, I slept on the davenport with Tippy in a box on the floor beside me. She cried and whined because she missed her family. I soon discovered that if I kept my hand on her, she felt comforted and went to sleep. It wasn't long until she was acclimated and happy.

TIPPY "SPEAKS"

Tippy liked to set by us when we ate and soon she was sitting up, appealingly, letting us know she wanted some of our food. Sometimes we offered her a tid- bit and she would stand on her hind legs, at which time she was told to "sit up pretty," but no effort was made to put her through a training course.

On her own, she developed the strategy of putting her head on our knees and looking very longingly at us if she wanted a tidbit or attention, sometimes nudging us with her nose as an alternate method.

To tell us that she wants to go out or for a walk, she developed the tact of sitting in front of a member of the family, looking very intently at the per- son and whining of she got no immediate response. The question, "Do you want to go out" brings her to full stance, and she says "yes" in many ways.

Very early in life she responded to playing with a ball, and it wasn't long before she learned to catch it in her mouth from a variety of difficult posi- tions when it was thrown in the air. She doesn't easily give it up after re- trieval and likes to be chased; but with the proper response from her play- mate, she can be induced to lay it on the floor in front of her playmate or in the lap. A game of ball-and-chase is part of her exercise once or more a day.

AFRAID OF STORMS

After Tippy came to live with us and was acclimated, the downstairs bathroom became her sleeping quarters. She was satisfied there until her first exper- ience with an electrical storm. We heard her carrying on, whining, and paw- ing. Our son David retrieved her from her predicament and took her to his bedroom to quiet her and let her sleep on the twin bed beside his. That did it, no more bathroom for her. When David went to bed, she went too.

Later we learned from our daughter that when Tippy was a very small puppy, the litter with mother, slept in a doghouse next to a tree which was struck by lightening. The mother dog from then on was deathly afraid of electrical storms, as Tippy is now.

We have since learned that when an electrical storm is brewing, Tippy will either sense or hear its approach long before humans will. she becomes very nervous, she pants and her heart beats excessively; she wants to be very close to people or hide in the darkest corner.

TIME FOR BED

If members of the family stay up to watch television past the usual time, Tip- py lets us know its her bedtime. She has various methods of telling us, sit- ting in front of us and staring intently or going to the hall door which leads to the upstairs. If I go to bed earlier, which is usually the case, I often say, "Well, I guess I'll go to bed." With that remark, Tippy jumps up or leaves whatever she is doing and tells us in her own way she is ready too and makes for the door.

To get David up in the morning, all we have to say is "go and get Dave up." She races up the stairs, jumps on his bed and starts snipping around his face and trying to roust him out. And, if we overlook the time to get him up, Tippy let's us know.

Almost 50 years ago, we fell in love with Scottie dogs. The first one, a ped- igree female, was the grandmother of Joan Crawford's pet. Our first Scottie's name was Rags, and she was given to us by people who raised Scotties, being too old to use for breeding.

BABYSITTER

When our first son, Nathan was born, my wife would put him on a blanket out- doors the first summer he could sit up and crawl. Rags was stationed there with him and commanded to watch and not let him crawl away. Rags performed her duty diligently, pulling him back by his clothes if he tried to venture from the blanket.

Later, another Scottie we had always waited for me if I was out at night. She curled up inside the front door and remained until I had let myself in and then she went to bed. She liked to lay on our feet when we read, a habit which Tippy also has.

Tippy is a good car traveler. She has gone to Florida with us on several occasions, looking out her window or sleeping when she tires of the scenery. She is no more trouble in a motel than a human. Her normal feeding, drinking and sleeping habits are routine on such trips.

She knows the sound of our car and our footsteps, but let a stranger step on the porch and she let's us know it. She is an excellent watchdog.

I'm sure all readers of this column, like myself, have read or heard tales about other intelligent dogs who have saved human lives in times of fire, drownings, wilderness snowstorms, etc. Trained dogs have become indispensible in police work and in warfare.

Are dogs intelligent? I believe so and I'm sure readers could tell many other stories that would substantiate that belief too.

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