Recently there's been a recognition
of the cognitive abilities of dogs.
They've given them a name, and now dognition
is being written up not only in dogs' owner blogs,
but in scientific articles, and in center
in Yale that's trying to find out how they're so smart.
Taking their skills seriously, one documenter
of every one that she's observed is my sweetheart,
not my wife, but of my middle son the spouse,
but when this son, who 's as pro-canine as his wife,
told me their smartest dog had swallowed their pet mouse,
I was horrified to find out that I am pro-life.
I had thought that I was pro-choice, and never felt
attached to mice till I learned of this muricide.
Concerning canine smartness there's a rat I've smelled
concerning dogs and those who march with canine pride.
Although my son may be as smart as dogs and my dear daughter-
in-law perhaps even smarter, I'm not willing
to prioritze their smartness. To cut a long tale shorter:
I'm pro-life when it come to mice, and contra canine killing
This poem is based on a true story that occurred on Broadway, in the Upper Westside of New York City, and in Central Park. My son and his lovely wife prefer to remain anonymous.
Jan Hoffman (“To Rate How Smart Dogs Are, Humans Learn New Tricks,” NYT, 1/7/17) writes:
Pam Giordano thinks her dog is quite intelligent, and she has proof: Giorgio, an 11-year-old Havanese, has diplomas stating he has a bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. from Yale. The bumper sticker on Ms. Giordano’s car announces, “My dog made it to the Ivy League.”
The honors were bestowed on Giorgio and Giuliana, his sibling, for participating in the university’s Canine Cognition Center. “I wanted to know how much they know and how smart they are,” Ms. Giordano, a real estate broker in Branford, Conn., said. “I think Giuliana really just goes for the treats. But Giorgio rises above it. He is very bright. I would say he knows over 100 words.”
The Yale researchers are on to something. They have figured out how to tap into the willingness of dogs’ human companions to support their studies. Enthusiastically.
Suddenly how smart your dog is seems to matter — an aspiration that has also not gone unnoticed by the commercial pet industry. Walk into any pet supply chain, such as the aptly named PetSmart, and take in the toys, gadgets and foods advertised as optimizing a dog’s intelligence. Or just do an online search for “brain games to play with your dog.”
The swelling interest, eagerly amplified by the pet industry, has given a boost to the relatively new academic field of canine cognition, with research centers sprouting up on campuses across the country. In the fall, the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science devoted an issue to the topic.
At Yale, the three-year-old canine cognition center has been barraged by humans eager to have their dogs’ intelligence evaluated, volunteering them for research exercises and puzzles. Some owners drive for hours.
“People like their kids to be smart, and they like their dogs to be smart,” said Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology who directs the center. “Some people will call and sound apologetic, saying, ‘I’d like to bring my dog in, but he might be too dumb.’”
(By the way, here’s a bubble-bursting secret: Smart dogs often aren’t that great to live with, precisely because they’re too smart.)