Friday, December 14, 2012

How Smart Is Your Dog? From The NZ SPCA’s Driving Dogs to IQ Testing – Dogs Continue to Astound and Amuse - Those Driving Dogs!

There’s a phrase one hears from time to time that just rankles – “What a dumb dog”, or variations, of the theme – “He’s Just a dumb dog”, drive those who know better, to thoughts of good uses for duct tape, or more aggressive tactics to the uninformed.

As someone who owns three dogs; one miniature Daschund, one Puggle (designer breed) and one Standard Field Beagle, the last word one would be able to use to describe any of these “animals” is “dumb”. The best comment on my pack of hounds came from a friend how had not met these canines, nor was very familiar with dogs in general, but after two hours, the comment was made: “There like little people with fur!” That one phrase summed up exactly, my take on my life with dogs. Dogs, no matter the breed, purebred or “mutt”, are multi-faceted, individual beings, who offer one the opportunity to enjoy constant companionship, unabated love and yes, even forgiveness. How smart are dogs? Let’s start with their ability to display unconditional love and forgiveness. There are myriad benefits to having a dog, or three, in one’s life, and personally, I have found that dogs behave and communicate as needed, depending upon the situation. The only frustration is learning to understand their behavior – thus buying a book on dog psychology might help. Dogs greet you with enthusiasm, no matter how long one has been gone, whether it’s a short trip to the store, a day at work, or a weekend away, the level of the greeting never changes – exuberant and joyous. They are just so glad to see you. When one is sick, with gold or a flue, the dog knows how to comfort. They are indeed, one’s best friend – they don’t care how you look, what you are wearing, if you’re grumpy they forgive, and if your happy they rejoice with you.

I’ve been asked (ok accused) - You love those dogs more than people – which may be somewhat true. Viewing dogs as children (in age of the mind, not in the actual sense of the word), and their behavior is oftentimes much more welcome than that of some plagued by the human condition.

From my Grandmother, came the love and respect accorded to all animals – as she taught – All Animals are God’s creature, for us to appreciate, protect and care for. In return, they appreciate, protect and care for us.

It’s a win, win situation.

It’s no wonder then, when New Zealand SPCA found a unique way in which to highlight the need to adopt shelter dogs, they chose to highlight just how smart the canine is – by teaching them how to drive. In news terms this story is old, it happened last week, however, every day, find myself watching on of their video’s over and over – The Worlds’ First Driving Dogs – complete with a bit of hip-hop background music. One of my close friends, whom I shared the video with, quickly wrote back: “Don’t even think about it”. Referring to the possibility that I might just try to teach my dogs to drive.

If one has seen the news stories, but missed this video, it is a must see. Also, there are so many that are in need , people and animals, so if you find yourself with a bit more than others, try giving to your local food bank (it appears that every city has one) and then a non-kill shelter. If you’re without a companion of the furry persuasion, you might consider fostering or adopting – that’s the biggest gift you can give yourself.

The IQ Test for Dogs (This test is rudimentary – or possibly insulting to one’s dog – depends on one’s point of view)

There is a game available through This is the product manufacturer here.

There is one model that has three levels, and is shaped like a dog bone, one places a treat in one of the spaced on one of the levels, to up the ante, there is a dog bone cover to place over the treat, spin the toy around several times – tell your dog to “find the treat”. Each dog is different and takes a different approach. It works well to on cold winter days, days that are far too cold for a decent walk. Highly recommended.

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