Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Reason In Animals



Truly Wonderful Examples In the Dog Family—One Taught by the Kindergarten Method—A Black and Tan That Displayed Human Intelligence.

"Instead of trying to learn the speech of animals," said a gentleman interested in science recently, "there may come a time when what we now consider dumb brutes may be endowed through the efforts of man with an intelligence approximating the human intellect. In other words, the higher order of animals may be taught to reason and demonstrate their power of thought in a way that would indeed be marvelous considered in the light of the laws of nature as we now have them revealed to us. But we are forced to believe from the world's experience in the past that all things are possible, and that we have not by any means attained the climax of the knowledge which we are to obtain in this life. In regard to the education of animals I am not speaking from theory, for I have but recently had examples of the great development of animal intelligence which, as a starter in a new line of scientific teaching, is extraordinary. But recently there was exhibited at one of the theaters of the city a dog whose exhibition was so remarkable that every person attributed it to a trick. A wink of the eye or some movement of the hand by the owner signified to the dog when he came opposite the correct card. Now, this dog, the owner told me, really did not reason. His power was developed by the kindergarten system of instruction and was discovered by a small child, who for amusement was accustomed to have her constant playfellow pick out numbers and cards while she was at her kindergarten lesson. The dog was with the child continually and soon showed signs of reasoning and evidenced an intelligence which would seem unusual in a brute. The dog had had the advantage of all the kindergarten instruction given the small child and strangely had made use of it.

"It had learned by observation just as a child does in the kindergarten. It is nothing surprising either when you observe how rapidly the mind of a child develops under such teaching. Why, there are many instances of a child being deaf and dumb or not knowing the English language, yet making almost as fast progress in the kindergarten as the child more fortunate. To a person not knowing that children have reasoning powers an untutored deaf and dumb child would scarcely show more intelligence than a dog. So why should we assert that a dog has no intelligence that can be developed simply because we do not know anything about it? Who knows what results could be obtained in the education of dogs if the systematic teaching that is bestowed upon children was given to the canines? Whether the dog which was exhibited here was really educated as the man claimed or not is immaterial. But that such a possibility exists was proved to me by a personal experience I had with a dog in the east recently. I was in a small town in Jersey, and in walking down the street one day I saw an elderly man carrying a small black and tan dog wrapped in a sort of a blanket which had been made especially for it. I approached the man and ventured that he must think a great deal of the dog from the care he took of it. 'A great deal,' said the old fellow. 'Why, if he was may son I could not think more of him. He has actually a human intelligence.' I told him I had heard of such cases before, but had always attributed the show of intelligence to a well devised trick. 'Well,' continued the old man, 'my friend, I can prove to you that this dog really does reason. He will do anything you tell him to, discriminate between objects and men, and, in fact, show an intelligence which will surprise you.' By this time three or four men passing by, hearing the conversation, became interested and stopped. The owner of the dog then took a little square piece of black flannel from his pocket and spread it upon the pavement. He then placed the dog upon it and asked me to tell him to pick out any one in the crowd by the description I should give of him. I then spoke to the dog, 'Pick out the man who has the red mustache and red necktie and wearing the light checked trousers.'

"I referred to a man in the rear of the crowd. The little dog sat up, and raising his ears looked all about the crowd. Then, as soon as he spied the man, he ran to him and jumped up, putting his fore paws on the man's legs. I tried this several times on different people, and never once did the dog make a mistake. Then the dog was asked his age, and by a number of barks told it. he then did some addition and subtraction. I then told the man that I thought there was some trick about it, so he said he would convince me fully that the dog really reasoned. 'Now,' said he, 'tell him to go to any object you may see within two blocks of here and tell him to point it out by placing his feet upon it when he finds it. I will go into this store, out of his sight, so that there will be no chance of my giving a signal.' After the man had retired I noticed a bicycle leaning against a post about a block and a half up the road. I turned to the dog and said slowly, 'Go find a bicycle up the road, and when you come to it put your hind feet on the back wheel.' The dog started on a lazy walk, looking all about him in the direction of the bicycle, and when he saw it he broke into a little trot. He then set his foot on the hind wheel and stood in this position looking toward us until a shout of approbation told him he was correct, when he got down and ran toward us as fast as he could. When he reached us, he jumped up and down, seeming pleased with his accomplishment. Of course there was no room left for me to doubt. I had to believe that if I ever was to believe anything. After this the dog pointed out an open carriage from a number of vehicles; also a drug store and a grocery from a block of miscellaneous stores. His scope of tricks, if they could be so called, seemed unlimited. He was able to do anything that was told him. The man told me his education had been like a child's. At first he could tell but one object, and by degrees he was taught to know more until out of 36 various articles placed in a room he could pick out any one that would be mentioned." — Pittsburg Dispatch.

Utility Vases

A large vase, such as usually serves for a potted plant, makes a good umbrella stand, and these are found in every variety of color and style. One of the big, pot bellied Moorish or Spanish peasant pottery, in rough, quaint designs of blue and yellow on white or of a rich, dark green solid color, relieved only by gradations of color in the glaze, would be effective and substantial.

No comments: