Wednesday, March 16, 2005

What does Fido know?
Intelligence of dogs gives pause to animal scientist

Turns out dogs are not immature wolves, as some theories have it. They aren't dumber than wolves, Csányi said, and they aren't following us around out of subservience to the so-called alpha dogs of the pack, i.e., us.

Rather, dogs are carefully evolved human assistants, said Csányi, who have learned to interpret our social lives in a way unmatched in the animal kingdom. They hang around us because they think there might be something good we could do together. And, we feed them.

If you're thinking that's a fancy way of saying "dogs are man's best friend," you're on the right track, but not yet at the destination. Dogs have evolved to think not exactly like us, but in ways that complement and parallel our thinking, Csányi wrote. We have a symbiosis with dogs that goes far beyond what most of us imagine.

No, they don't understand English or Hungarian, no matter what some doting owners think.
I disagree: they understand at least somewhat. Key words, that sort of thing. Once a police department imported some specially trained Alsatians from Germany and the handlers had to learn to give commands auf Deutsch.

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