October 12, 2009

Getting the smarts

Carmen seems to have found her way ‘home’ finally. The last three mornings when I have gone out to feed the outside cats she has been there wanting to be fed also. She hides under the trailer so I don’t know she is there. The other two cats rush down the steps to me when I open the front door, greeting me, almost tripping me, miaowing and racing along beside me, while Carmen bounces up high like a dancer from under the trailer and in three bounding leaps ends up in the bushes behind the house where they will be fed, hidden still; its almost like having a little whirlwind riffling along beside you. She wants the food but will not come forward to eat until I have gone back inside. I guess one of these days she won’t run when she sees me looking at her from the window. If she gave it any thought to it she would realize I would have to go out the front door before I could even approach her, but I don’t think little creatures with wild hearts go to all that effort to think. It gives me peace however to see that she has come back and is settling in here as a third outside cat in my collection.

New developments on the dog front. Sweet Pickle has learned how to speak Spanish. I just realized that after living here for a year he understands the maids now perfectly. I observed this about a week ago when Favorite Maid opened the door and called to him, “Ven Dash, ven!” He didn’t really want to come, but he did, that’s what convinced me that he understood her. It wasn’t as if he was waiting or even hoping to come in. The maids asked me what Sweet Pickle looked like as a puppy. At the time he was lying under the table by my feet as I was typing on my computer. I can show you pictures of him as a puppy, I said to them. So I pulled up the photos as a slide show. Favorite Maid said in Spanish, “Oh Dash, look right here and see how cute you were as a puppy.” He leapt to his feet and ran over to the table jumping up to put his paws on it to peer at the screen. I kid you not. My jaw just sort of hung open. I do realize it was food motivated, he sniffed around a bit, but nonetheless he understood exactly what she had said.

Did you read the recent news article on the Discovery Channel that says compares a dog’s ability to understand pointing at an object to be the same as a two-year human’s? The same article pointed out that monkeys, even chimpanzees, don’t get pointing (neither do wolves). In Sweet Pickle’s case, most of the time that I point something out to him it is a food morsel on the ground, so it behoves him to see where I am pointing. Since I read that article I have been observing his ability to ‘get the point’ with great interest and marveling at the silent communication possible between us and man’s best friend, for I don’t really have to say anything except to just point.

I tried pointing out egg yolk on my plate this morning to the cat Sour Pickle, who is highly civilized for a cat, but even though it was his favorite food he just didn’t get it.

"Just look how cute you were as a puppy."

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