Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Our Guardians, our Heros!

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” ― Mark Twain

When I think of creation and the many beauties and perks that come along with being an (elite?) member of this planet, I can easily become overwhelmed with awe at my Creator’s resourcefulness. At the moment, I’m thinking of dogs in our lives. I think that we should give more time and pay greater respects during World Dog Day (see: http://worlddogday.net/) to more justly celebrate and honor what these four-legged partners do for us.

I subscribe to Bored Panda (https://www.boredpanda.com), and an e-article, titled, “30+ Times Dogs Surprised Humans With Their Incredibly Heroic Acts” caught my attention. It’s a wonderful article with photos, and you cannot read to the end without having a greater respect for dogs and what they do for us. The first story relates how Layka, a female German Shepherd military dog who, after being shot four times, still managed to subdue an insurgean that had attacked her handler.

A second story is about a dog that had to bark for 30 minutes in attempt to persuade his family to leave the house because of a gas leak. There’s more, and each one of the stories will pull at your heart strings.

Now, at first blush, one may question just how are heroic acts like I’ve just quoted, related to intelligence—or loyalty, for that matter?  Well, without intelligence, any living, conscious being would be little more than a walking zombie! It takes reasoning, compassion and understanding to be intelligent, regardless of the species. It also takes intelligence to be loyal, trustworthy, and an eternal friend!

Browsing through the short stories mentioned in the Bored Panda e-article mentioned above, it’s not hard to see the super ability—dare I say psychic intelligence—these dogs display by understanding the problem, then being able to take immediate action, often without prompting from their human handlers.

“I belong to the people I love, and they belong to me–they, and the love and loyalty I give them, form my identity far more than any word or group ever could.”  ― Veronica RothAllegiant

I can add a personal dog-story to the Bored Panda list. A few years ago I owned a beautiful German Shepherd dog I named Sheba. At the time,  I was suffering from depression brought on by lack of work (I am self employed), failing health and mounting  bills. I had an overwhelming blanket of heaviness fall over me with a feeling that all the world was against me: In my world, it seemed that I had no friends and no one to turn to for support. It was then that I noticed Sheba had quietly come over to where I was sitting and laid her head on my lap, looked up at me with eyes that said, “Grieve not. I will always be your friend!” I just cried with relief!

What a dreary world this would be if we didn’t have dogs to protect, comfort and support us!

 

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Tom, the Virginia’ Vet Association’s pet

 

Intelligence will never stop being beautiful

I first published this short article in the Temple City Star on 18th of January, 2018

Dogs aren’t the only animals that serve men in the military. Cats, also, play a role. Tom—yes, that’s what the vets have named him, “… is a tomcat that’s established himself as the facility’s feline therapist” in the Salem, Virginia’s Veterans Association Medical Center.

“[Tom] arrived after some hospital staff read a book called “Making Rounds with Oscar”, by Dr. David Dosa, a physician who treated patients with medicine and with his therapy cat, Oscar. They (Salem VA hospital) knew they needed a cat just like Oscar, so they adopted Tom.” Writes I-lovecats.com.

Because some visitors aren’t exactly friendly to cats, the hospital has a “No Pet” zone, but Tom doesn’t mind. He makes friends easily, so more and more non-cat lovers are relenting and starting to pet him and bring him treats. There are some heartwarming tales written about the many ways Tom has helped long-term veterans deal with life, and Sharon Herndon, whose late father was a vet in this hospital, even wrote a book about him, titled, “Tom the Angel Cat.” She wrote, “Tom is the final salute to a job well done. He’s serving our country’s heroes by acting as one himself.”

Isn’t it nice when we treat animals as companions in our world we live in, rather than  treating them as a nuisance.

“Intelligence is the ability of a species to live in harmony with its environment.” — Paul Watson

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Cleo the Cat

 

Cat reunites with nursing home elderly

This story was first published in the Cardston Temple City Star on 30th November, 2017

 

Cleo, the cat, certainly proved that he was not your average adoptee, and that he loved his owner, Nancy Cowen, more than anything else in his life.

Nancy and Cleo were the best of friends for eight years, but Nancy’s health started failing, so she was forced to move into the Bramley House nursing home in Westcott, Dorking, in the UK. Unfortunately, the nursing home—at the time! —had a no pet rule, so Cleo was reluctantly adopted out to the neighbors. But Cleo had other plans. He missed Nancy, and he was going to have no part of that separation! Two weeks after Nancy moved, that furry fella showed up on the Bramley House doorstep. At first, no one payed attention to the cat. Thinking it was just another stray, they just fed it while it spent its nights under the benches placed around the home for its residents to enjoy.

Then, Nancy’s sister came by to visit and spotted Cleo.  Long story short, arrangements were made with the nursing home to allow Nancy and Cleo to be happily united again.

The puzzling question is, how did Cleo know where Nancy had moved to? Do the bonds of love extend beyond material boundaries?

Amazing Intelligence in Animals — Elephants

“We admire elephants in part because they demonstrate what we consider the finest human traits: empathy, self-awareness, and social intelligence. But the way we treat them puts on display the very worst of human behavior.”  — Graydon Carter

You’ve heard that elephants have a great memory. Well, that’s not all they have. Elephant’s are considered the world’s most intelligent animal, and are similar to a human’s brains in many ways.

According to an article in Wikipedia, Elephants manifest a wide variety of behaviors, including those associated with grief, learning, mimicry play, altruism, use of tools, compassion, cooperation, self-awareness, (and, of course) memory and communication.”

An elephant’s cortex also has as many neurons as the human brain suggesting convergent evolution. That is, “the independent evolution of similar features in species of different lineages.” They also possess strong family ties, possessing one of the most closely-knit societies of any species, and display grief at the passing of a family member. According to many researchers in this field, it is morally wrong for humans to cull them!

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

There is one ability elephants don’t have that we humans have: the ability to make war against neighboring elephant families and other animal specifies! – Sorry, I just had to get that dig in.

One of my favorite thoughts is, “If god created it, love it!” (and God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. Genesis 1:31)

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—The Crafty Crow

Crows are smarter than you think!

This story first appeared on the 27th of July, 2017, in a column that I write for the Temple City Star.

Most everyone that I’ve talked to can tell me at least one story of how smart dogs are and the intelligence that they display. But, do you know that birds are also very intelligent, especially the crow?

Crows are crafty little critters, ask anyone who’s tried to catch one or shoo it away from a fruit tree. A crow’s brain is about the size of a human thumb, putting it on relative par with primates. A PBS series “Nature” showed an experiment where a crow figured out how to use a small stick to retrieve a larger stick, then use that larger stick to get at some food that had been placed out of its reach. Crows can also recognize individual people that are important to its survival, and can distinguish between who’s a danger or a friend to them.

Crows are born with tool-making abilities, and hone that ability by watching their elders, a sign of higher intelligence.

(name withheld) of Seattle, Washington, has reported that her backyard crows have left over 70 trinkets in her bird feeder, including ear rings, a heart and “best friend” charm, all with an enticing reminder to “keep the food coming, lady!”

A Sunday Chat with Myself – Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

“Men like that — when they know they won’t be found out — they will do anything.” 
― Michelle Paver

I’m the secretary of our Cardston Home Safe Animal Rescue Society and one of my tasks that I’ve undertaken is to create monthly posters advertising compassion to animals, and distribute them to the bulletin boards of select businesses in town.

After completing the poster, I couldn’t help but reflect on just how insensitive humans are when it comes to dealing with Nature,–not just lost and abandoned pets, but Nature in general. For example, now with the holiday season upon us, many a parent will consider getting a puppy or kitten as a Christmas gift for a family member.

“They’re so cute and adorable!” We hug the animal, maybe even kiss it. “We’re going to take such good care of you and you’re going to be part of our family!” we fondly chortle. At the moment, everything sounds so good and mushy. However, a week after Christmas, when faced with a cleanup job after the kitten or puppy accidently pooped on our beautiful rug, out the door goes the pet, and with the same intensity of passion in which the animal was adopted, it is now abandoned, left to face the cold elements on its own! Forgotten!

But pets and Nature in general aren’t the only things that suffer as a result of our indifference. We’re just as mean and cruel to each other!

I do believe in karma and, although karma can sometimes be delayed to manifest in our lives another day, I  believe that many of the calamities that happen in our lives are a result of our actions. If we are prone to gossip, should we expect people to trust us? If we are flighty and inconsistent in our thoughts and behavior, should we expect stability in our lives? If we frequently get angry at our children and call them stupid, should we expect our children to love us and care for us in our old age?

I listened to an interviewee this morning who was describing his life in Yugoslavia under the Nazi occupation. He was lamenting the fact that no one stood up to defend their neighbor, or each other, under the strict rules imposed on them by the Nazis. This is why Naziism was so successful for so long, because so few people in the occupied lands stood up against them, and I believe that this is the reason so many of us have to suffer because no one is prepared to stand up for justice for the weak, including our animals and Nature in general. In frustration, I often have to conclude that we deserve what we get!

“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Is your love for animals Selfish or Unselfish?

My wife and I are animal lovers–more correctly, all-of-God’s-creation lovers, and we’ve adopted and fostered quite a number of pets in our time. A person (I forget at the moment who it was nor the circumstance. Doesn’t matter) once commented to me on how well animals, especially cats and dogs, seem to respond positively to my touch: they seem to gravitate towards me and love to be held and caressed by me. Yet, for him, animals didn’t seem as friendly, even though he claimed to love animals. Unless he held out food to them, they didn’t want to come to him.

I’ve sometimes wondered if should have told him why. Would it have made a difference, or would he have been insulted? If I’d have told him that the way one loves makes all the difference. For example, did he find that little puppy dog cute that a  friend held out to him, and, because of its cuteness, wanted to hold it and pet it–or did he see that the little ball of energy needed someone to care and give it assurance that it was loved?

Let me explain. I’ve already mentioned that my wife and I have adopted and fostered quite a number of pets in our time. Some of the pets, especially cats, found their way to our doorstep already fully vetted. That is, they already were either neutered or spayed and had received all their vaccinations. At first, we were a bit puzzled about this. Why would someone give up a pet that already was fully vetted? That also meant that they must have bought the cat from either a  licensed pet store, or from one of the local animal shelter  groups. Another observation was that these cats, although adult, were all under a year old. Then, on a chance encounter with a family that had just adopted a young kitten, the puzzle came together.

The daughter of this family had been bugging her mother for a pet, so one day, off they trundled to a pet shop. There they found a mother cat that had fairly recently had a batch of kittens. I imagined the scene that must have taken place.

“Oh look at that cute little calico kitten!” the girl exclaimed excitedly. “It has such beautiful little round blue eyes! I want her, Mommy! Please!”

So, of course, Mommy bought the kitten and they took it home where, for the first couple months, the girl spend endless ours playing with it and making sure that it was properly fed. As that ‘cute’ kitten gradually grew into an adult cat, the novelty of owning a ‘cute kitten’ wore off and the young girl no longer was interested in caring for it, and the mother certainly didn’t have the time to clean litter boxes so, out the door went the cat! Find yourself a new home!

And that, my friend, is the difference between selfish and unselfish love for pets. One loves animals because it pleases the person, while the other loves animals because it pleases the animal.