If we gave animals more credit for their ability to make sense of their human’s world, perhaps we human beings wouldn’t be so surprised. People often say to me “He /she is so smart.“ Sometimes the animal is “too smart for its own good.” This usually translates to “my pet figured out something quicker than I expected or wanted it to.”
It is interesting to me that people seldom talk about other people as being “too smart for their own good.” We call people intelligent and refer to our pets as being “smart.” I don’t know that I have heard the word intelligence used to talk about a pet. I think that this has happened a few times. Some other descriptors for animal intelligence are “taking it all in”, “doesn’t miss anything”, smarter than me”, and a few more.
Perhaps it is not the descriptors that are surprising as much as how we humans underestimate and clearly have so little understanding of your furry and feathery friends.
It is easy to fall into the trap of being entertained, amused, engaged, delighted, etc. at the abilities of animals. We say, “you are kidding”, “really” “that’s amazing” and more. We humans smile, laugh, and raise our eyebrows as we respond to the stories.
Here is a story that I heard yesterday that evoked a smile and a laugh. I was talking to two brothers who live together. They came into the pet store in Salem, Oregon where I was offering consultations. They brought in a seven year old corgi named Buddy. The two brothers take turns walking the dog. Buddy loves to go on his walks. If he had his way, he would walk several times a day. Neither brother has the time to walk with Buddy twice a day. Sometimes Buddy isn’t walked at all. He doesn’t like this and shows his displeasure by pooping in the bedroom of the brother that neglected to take him for a walk that day. The brothers laughed as they shared the story with me. Now, neither brother liked Buddy’s “gift” but they did marvel at his ability to accurately know who had not taken him on his walk. Apparently, Buddy was consistently right about who was the gui