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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Believe It Or Not

The "experts" tell us that dogs don't see color, have no emotions and don't really think or reason, that they only act instinctively or by repeated learned behavior.

I think the "experts" are full of it!!

On what do I base my statement? On a lifetime of living with, interacting with and observing dogs.

Let's take these statements one at a time. First color.

I have always heard that dogs are color blind or see in shade of gray. Why then do some dogs have preferences for certain colors?

At Christmas we put dog toys in a toy box and let them all choose their own toy. 99% of the time Monty chose a pink toy. This was his favorite, Pink Pig Bunny, but he also had a pink ball, a pink octopus and a pink teddy bear. Was that just coincidence? I don't think so.

I've also heard from the "experts" that dogs can't see the picture on the television screen, that their eyes don't process it the way ours do.

When Bentley was a pup we had a movie on the tv that we had seen before, so we turned the sound off and left the picture on. In the movie the bad guy had three Doberman dogs that guarded his house. Every time the dogs came on the screen, Bentley would start barking. Why? If he couldn't see the dogs, why did he only bark when they were in the picture?

Noah barks at dogs on the television and Tsar loves to watch dancing. He parks himself in front of the television and stares at it as long as anyone is dancing.

"Experts" tell us that dogs can't really think or reason. Their actions are all learned from repetition.

I believe dogs think, reason and have a sense of humor. My dogs enjoy playing jokes. Bentley used to stand in our kitchen window and when he saw a dog walking down the street he would bark, then race upstairs to the bay window where he could watch the dog's confused reaction to hearing a bark and not seeing another dog. He had a similar joke he played on people who were standing at the mailbox. He would sneak up behind them, give one loud bark, then race for home. When the startled person turned and looked around, all they saw was Bentley lying on his porch looking angelic.

On my other blog, I related the story about the frog that pooped on our stairs and this week my pack set me up with this stuffy sitting in a puddle of water. They think this is funny stuff. Their humor is on the level of a pre-schooler, but it's still humor.

As for the "expert's" opinions on emotions, I disagree with that one, too.

We've all witnessed a dog's grieving for a lost companion. It can be heartbreaking. We've seen dogs adopt baby animals of other species that needed love and protection. And yes, dogs do laugh.

When my dogs do something they think is silly or something that makes me look silly, they laugh. Here is Pylon laughing over something she found humorous.

Sky laughs at his sisters when he thinks he's played a trick on them.

Even Tsar, who is generally pretty serious, can laugh when he puts one over on Fudge.

So, what do you think? Are the "experts" right? Are dogs just little machines with no emotions or preferences or reasoning abilities, or do they think and joke and laugh and like one color better than another? What are your experiences?

If you have pictures of your dog laughing, e-mail them to me and I'll post them to show the "experts". Does your dog play jokes on you or a companion? Tell us about them. And does your dog have a favorite color? What is it? And you cat people, let us know what your cat does to amuse itself at your expense.

Maybe the "experts" need to try living with a dog.


  1. Those "experts" who spout off such information obviously have not been keeping up to date with scientific research as it has been proven that dogs can see certain colors.

    It has also been proven that dogs have the reasoning capabilities (as in problem solving, not just instinctual) of a human toddler and do feel basic emotions like joy, fear, grief, jealousy, anger, and disgust to name a few. There was even a study done that showed that dogs are easily outperformed chimpanzees when it came to understanding human communication cues and imitating humans. Dogs have also been proven to laugh and recordings of dog laughter is used in some kennels to calm the dogs. Animals as simple and small as rats have been proven capable of laughing so why wouldn't an animal as physiologically and psychologically complex as a dog be capable of laughter as well?

    Hero is too honest and goodhearted to play jokes on us, but he loves to laugh and does so all the time. Hero is my little shadow, but sometimes when he's preoccupied with something I'll sneak away, hide somewhere then call for him. When he comes into the room looking for me I'll pop out and surprise him and I'm always met with very loud laughter. He doesn't play jokes, but he certainly understands when a joke has been played on him.

    I've always loved dogs, but it wasn't until I got Hero that I began to understand just how intelligent and socially complex these animals are. He's a very inquisitive dog and he never ceases to astound me with degree of intelligence he possesses in that little head of his. There are so many times when I see the little gears in his head turning as he thinks through a problem and the few times he couldn't figure it out he was smart enough to know the ultimate answer to any problem: ask a human for help.

    I will admit that dogs are incapable of doing a few things that humans can, but I'm glad that one of those things includes pride, which I believe many of those "experts" have too much of to believe that Man truly is as unique as they believe us to be.

  2. Actually, in the last couple months I have read some reports by more enlightened researchers that claim that dogs show intelligence levels on a par with human toddlers. What took them so long? Dog lovers have known this forever.

    Some of my dogs enjoy it when I hide and jump out to surprise them. It usually causes them to bark and zoom around in big circles.

  3. Anyone that thinks dogs don't see color hasn't thrown H2O discs for Sunny and Jackson. Sunny's are green' Jackson's are orange. If you throw a disc and the wrong dog dives for it, you have a disc floating in the water waiting for the correct dog to retrieve it.
    ...and anyone who thinks a dog can't think oir reason hasn't trained a dog for competition obedience, let alone gone in the ring with a fully trained dog and wait to see what they think of to spice up the routine in the ring.

  4. You can say that again. Last year at rally Fudge performed well the first two days and decided to spice things up on the third day. This year in October we're trying again. He knows the commands, but I have no idea what he may decide to do once he gets in the ring.

  5. I'll have to email you photos of Sissy laughing, or you can just serve yourself from Flickr, whichever is easiest. I'll have to look harder for Gretchen laughing photos...

  6. My pup totally knows colours. She has 2 rubber bones, exactly the same, except one if pink and one is blue. She know which one is which...

  7. Hello!

    Experts Scmackperts ... dogs do know colour, have a sense of humour and have intelligence of a toddler ... i've always thought so. I got the pack rubber balls of two different colours - one black the other blue. Joe prefers his black ball and while Trixie Blue. Tuffy prefers the blue ball to the black. Joe likes red too but we don't get many red robust rubber balls in town.

    Joe knows when I ask him where his rubber ball is - he'd scurry about looking for it (where he last left it) and when he does find it in places where he cannot reach he knows how to get his human to get it for him.

    Tuffy does the same too. But Tuffy's reportoire consists of complaints when we wash out his hidey hole, or calls when he's feeling abit lonely and we're busy doing somefin ... of just complaining for the sake of being cute. Snoopy will definitely let you know if dinner's a little slow coming! She's a stickler to good service! :p

    Love the photos of the dogs laughing ... :)

  8. If dogs don't feel emotion why does Meg suffer seperation anxiety?

    She will smile, she watchs TV and she has a large capacity to love.

  9. Well, what a surprise to realise you have TWO blogs! I regularly visit your Portuguese Water Dog one, but didn't notice this one till today. Silly me! I'll be marking it right now on my Google Reader so I can get a notification whenever you post.

    As to this stuff about dogs being like machines, I read somewhere it is a stupid recent belief, coming out of the Renaissance, or somewhere around then, when western society discovered "scientific method" and went away from our old village societies that were in touch with nature. I blame Descartes and his writings for much of the troubles animals have today - factory farming, for one. It makes my blood boil to think that we've lost our realisation that we are just another one of the wonderful range of species that inhabit this, the one and only planet we have.


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