What does the trio above have in common? They’re all very smart and they’re getting an education. Humans have been up to their scientific studies and The National Geographic –that fine publication that has long been a favorite of Yours Truly– has produced an article about just how smart animals really are (here’s the link to the article: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/03/animal-minds/virginia-morell-text/1 and they have a number of terrific video and text features that can be found on this page http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/video/player?titleID=1390861263).
Betsy, the Border Collie pictured above and the covergirl for the March issue, is a particular standout for me (If I travel to Austria, I would very much like to meet her). She is clearly a bit of a risk taker, though, to let humans know that she “gets it” (Yours Truly has studiously avoided displaying his intelligence for fear of having electrodes stuck all over his grey matter by over-zealous scientists –this blog is my only risk-taking activity, the rest of the time I play amiable but dumb). This is what they write about Betsy:
Species: Border Collie
Home: Vienna, Austria
Smarts: Retains an ever growing vocabulary that rivals a toddlers. How much thought goes on behind those eyes? A lot, in this case. Six-year-old “Betsy” can put names to objects faster than a great ape, and her vocabulary is at 340 words and counting. Her smarts showed up early: At ten weeks she would sit on command and was soon picking up on names of items and rushing to retrieve them—ball, rope, paper, box, keys, and dozens more. She now knows at least 15 people by name, and in scientific tests she’s proved skilled at linking photographs with the objects they represent. Says her owner, “She’s a dog in a human [pack]. We’re learning her language, and she’s learning ours.”