Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Four-legged and furry...

As most of you know, I volunteer at a local humane society to satisfy my jones for having a dog while living in a no-pet apartment building. But for the last couple of weekends a bridal shower and moving house have kept me occupied on the weekends. As a result, I found myself ogling a dog park this morning on the way to work. About six or seven people were out with about as many dogs, tossing sticks and balls or just having a cuddle. I really wanted to pull over and go play too, but I soldiered on, to the relief, I'm sure, of both my boss and a bunch of pet-owners who would have found my dog-less presence suspicious. 

While at the shelter, I'm constantly amazed at the intellectual abilities of the dogs there. The fact our pits are among the smartest (while family favorites like labs and retrievers are the dumbest) is usually one of the selling points I use when talking to dubious visitors (or my mother). Recently I went through training, so I could start clicker training with the dogs. That's basically when you use a little metal clicker to get animals to get used to the following process: clicker sound ->good behavior -> cookie. 

My enthusiasm for animal intelligence is usually treated with the verbal pat on the head, but now Yahoo! News has published  story to back me up. Stanley Coren, a leading dog expert at the University of British Columbia found that dogs have the overall intelligence of a two year-old human in terms of language and have better math and socializing skills than three to four year -olds

The dog in the following story used his intelligence to save a boy's life (thanks, Michelle, for passing this along). The Segovias took in a stray dog initially for a day, but when no one claimed him, he stayed and became somewhat attached to Yolanda Segovia's 10 and 21 year-old sons. Her elder son suffers from severe Down Syndrome. One afternoon while Yolanda was outside, the dog came crashing through the screen barking up a storm. Raelee the dog led her back to the elder son's room, where he was having an epileptic seizure. Segovia's neurologist said the young man would have died if no one had found him. (The story on is the third one down...)

Some people think pets are just dumb animals, but I think that dog and the cat in this next story might go a little ways to disproving that. The photo from today's post is of Casper, a 12 year-old British cat who has caught the No. 3 bus at 10:55 a.m. once a day for four years. According to the Daily Telegraph, Casper hops on at the stop in front of his house and rides the whole 11-mile circuit before being deposited back at his stop. He has become such a regular that drivers in the company are told to look out for the little one, making sure he gets off at the right stop in his advanced age. Apparently Casper gets on and likes to curl up in the back seat during the ride.

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