Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Stories of Intelligence in Dogs

Dog Stories from the "Spectator" 1895

Topsy had a favourite resting-place in an easy-chair, and was very often deprived of it by a dog which came as visitor to the house. Topsy did not approve of this, and her attempts to regain her seat were met with growls and bites. This justified an act of eviction, and the busy little brain decided on a plan. The next day, as usual, the intruder established himself in the chair, which was close to the open door. Topsy looked on for a moment, and then flew savagely out of doors, barking at a supposed enemy. Out ran the other dog to see what was up, and back came Topsy to take possession of her coveted seat. The other dog came slowly back, and curled himself up in a far-off corner. The above I was an eyewitness to, and therefore can vouch for the truth of what I relate. K.P.


By James Rennie 1841

The faculty by which animals can communicate their ideas to each other is very striking; in dogs it is particularly remarkable. There are many curious anecdotes recorded illustrative of this faculty.

The following story, which illustrates in a singular manner the communication of ideas between dogs, was told by a clergyman as an authentic anecdote: A surgeon of Leeds, walking in the suburbs of that 'town, found a little spaniel who had been lamed. He carried the poor animal home, bandaged up his leg, and, after two or three days, turned him out. The dog returned to the surgeon's house every morning till his leg was perfectly well. At the end of several months the spaniel again presented himself, in company with another dog, which had also been lamed; and he intimated, as well as piteous and intelligent looks could intimate, that he desired the same kind assistance to be rendered to his friend as had been bestowed upon himself. A similar circumstance is stated to have occurred to Moraut, a celebrated French surgeon.


 When I was in Norway with my husband, a dog belonging to the people of the house went with us in all our walks. One day a strange dog joined us, and seemed to wish to get up a fight with our dog, Fechter, who for protection kept almost under our feet; my husband said several times, "Go on, Fechter," in English, which he immediately did, but soon came back again. At last we succeeded in driving the strange dog away, but he soon returned. Then my husband said without any alteration of tone or gesture that I was aware of, "Drive that dog away, Fechter." He immediately rushed at him, and we saw no more of our troubler. I have long thought that dogs do understand, not "the precise sounds themselves, but the intention put into them by the speaker."

Jimmy Stewart Reads a Touching Poem About 
His Dog Beau on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show

 A wise old dog with whom I have the privilege to associate was, two or three days ago, lying asleep in her basket by the fire. I entered the room with my hat on, and invited her to join me in a walk; but, after looking up at me for a moment, as canine politeness required, she dropped back among her cushions, obviously replying, "Thank you very much, but I prefer repose." Thereupon I observed, in a clear voice, " I am not going on the road [a promenade disliked by the dogs, because the walls on either side restrict the spirit of scientific research]; I am going up the mountain." Instantly my little friend jumped up, shook her ears, and, with a cheerful bark, announced herself as ready to join the party.

Beyond doubt or question, Colleen had either understood the word "road," or the word "mountain," or both, and determined her proceedings accordingly. Nothing in my action showed, or could show, the meaning of my words.

If any of your readers who have resided for some weeks or months in a country where a language is spoken entirely foreign to their own—say, Arabic, or Basque, or Welsh— will recall of how many words they insensibly learn the meaning without asking it, and merely by hearing them always used in certain relations, they will have, I think, a fair measure of the extent and nature of a dog's knowledge of the language of his masters. My dog has lived fewer years in the world than I have passed in Wales, but he knows just about as much English as I know Welsh, and has acquired it just in the same way. F.P.C. 1883

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