Dogs May Be Taking Me Up on that Whole "Evolve" Request

April 20, 2009

I was watching Ginger play with her Kong last night, watching her try to un-stick the last couple of kibbles that I cram in to keep it from giving up the goodies too fast. After trying to bounce the toy around and use her teeth to extricate the food, she pinned down the Kong with one front paw and picked a piece out with a toenail on the other front paw. With the logjam broken she could bat it around the living room and roll treats out of it.

That's a decent amount of problem-solving right there, especially for a critter with a brain about half the size of a tennis ball. And given that I've never seen dogs or wolves pick at their food with both front paws -- I have seen them hold it with either/both paw(s) and gnaw -- I'd say this is a new technique in addition to the problem solving.

Now, Ginger is no doubt very far from being the first to figure this out. But it's something I didn't teach her, and something that likely doesn't happen in the wild. I was impressed.

For about half a day. She still lags a little behind the frontrunners. From the article: "The clever canines board the Tube each morning. After a hard day scavenging and begging on the streets, they hop back on the train and return to the suburbs where they spend the night... [T]hey even work together to make sure they get off at the right stop -- after learning to judge the length of time they need to spend on the train."

I, for one, welcome our new train-riding canine overlords.

March 18, 2009April 22, 2009