MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Studies Show Dogs and Babies More Intelligent Than We Knew

On Monday, August 10, a research study reported that dogs have the developmental abilities equivalent to a human 2-year-old. Some dogs can learn up to 250 words, with the average being 165 words. It also shows that different breeds of dogs differ in their intelligence. My understanding is that the study only examined language skills.

TIME has an article today on Child Psychology: A New Look Inside Babies Minds'. According to TIME, Alison Gopnik, a University of California, Berkeley, psychologist says in her new book, The Philosophical Baby, that modern research is revolutionizing our understanding of the first years of life; it reveals early childhood to be an intense period of intellectual, emotional and moral development. "Any child will put the most productive scientist to shame," she writes.

Gopnik says that for most of history, babies were seen as "vegetables with a few reflexes."
"If you just casually look at a baby, it doesn't look like there's very much going on there, but they know more and learn more than we would ever have thought. Every single minute is incredibly full of thought and novelty."

She also says, "babies are more imaginative and even more conscious than adults. They take in much more information from different sources than adults do and work very hard to make sense of that information. It's one reason we think babies sleep so much - they're doing much harder work than grown-ups are..."

So, if dogs are the intellectual equivalent of toddlers, and babies know and learn more than we had any idea of before, and are more imaginative and conscious than we knew, might the same be true of dogs and other animals? Have we short changed dog and animal intelligence like we have human babies until now by using language and language understanding as the primary measure of their intelligence?

One of my radio interviews this past week on the Ed Verschure show on WHTC in Holland, Michigan discussed this study of dog IQ along with my book. In another of my radio interviews last week with Dr. Beth Erickson titled, Communicating With Your Pet, we discussed how well dogs/animals communicate, including their seeming telepathic abilities to know our thoughts at times.

I certainly had these experiences with my dog, Maggie and talk about them in my book, as well as with Chloe, the 11 year old Golden we adopted a year after Maggie's death. I love sharing the "mind-reading" and "tuning in" experiences of other dog guardians with their own dogs because I believe these abilities in canines and other animals need to be made known and taken into account when studying canine intelligence. Like we are now discovering with babies, I believe we'll find that dogs/animals are more conscious and imaginative than humans thought.

Here is Elly's story from a book club I discussed MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life with. Her pup, Zander, tuned in to her husband's illness, and perhaps even "took some of it on" energetically. I'd asked the group to share their dogs' abilities to tune in to them, to read them/their minds in ways training couldn't explain. I also asked if they'd had dreams where significant information was revealed regarding their pets.

Ah yes, too many to list, so I will mention my latest. About 15 mos ago I found out about a litter ... The breeder had plenty of pups spoken for and I was a bit depressed over not getting on the puppy list on time ...

A month later I had a dream the babies had been born and I saw one male very clearly even as an adult, totally grown up. I woke up and was smiling about my dream and decided to let
the breeder know (she was in Holland, we live in Texas). Well, what do you know, the pups had been born during the night. She also had more males then she had expected. So I was on the list.

I flew to Holland to pick him up. Well, there was no doubt who my boy was. He walked up to me and that was that. When he got home he seemed to know the routines instantly. My husband commented on his way of always being in the right spot every time.

When my hubby was diagnosed with bladder cancer he had some serious discomfort from the chemo. Every day my boy would lay his head against my husbands lower tummy, look at me, then close his eyes. He'd stay there for about 5 minutes. He would then go lay down by my chair and go to sleep. During these times he could hardly eat and had a sick tummy. My hubby is doing better at the moment and my Zander has put on quite a bit of weight. He just turned 1 yr, so this was all as a baby.

Oh, yeah, when I sit too long after breakfast, he brings me his leash. If I ignore it, he brings me other dogs' leashes, then he brings me my shoes ...

What do you think? Are dogs/animals more intelligent than even this recent study gives them credit for? Does your dog/pet know what you are thinking?

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life


Ingrid King said...

I've always believed that animals are more intelligent than we give them credit for. It's nice to see that there is research that is starting to proof this. I do think, however, that these studies leave out an even bigger factor in what I believe makes animals intelligent beings, and that's their spiritual nature. When an animal tunes in to our thoughts and emotions, is that intelligence at work, or is it the spiritual connection between human and animal?

Ingrid King said...

Oops, should have proofed this before posting - that was meant to say "it's nice that research is starting to prove!"

Dawn Kairns, Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life said...

I agree, Ingrid, that these "intelligence" studies leave out so much, and that the spiritual connection between human and animal accounts for so much telepathy between us, and is pretty hard to measure.