Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dogs' "knowing" things

So last night during a long bus ride from Pennsylvania, I happened to strike up a conversation with a lady who was sitting next to me. And we wound up spending a lot of time talking about her dog, a chihauhau. The lady told me that she wasn't bothered by her dog's barking --- actually, he didn't bark a lot ---- it was the way he acted when she visited her son's house.

The upshot was that the dog did not care for that house for some reason. He'd run upstairs and remain there until it was time to leave.

Hearing that got me wondering about extrasensory abilities of dogs and other living creatures. How do they instinctively sense that something isn't right?  A few experts, including Alexandra Horowitz, the author of a book called, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know would disagree, arguing that dogs simply know us from carefully observing us and our activities. Dogs also think about us and our smells. Extrasensory perception has nothing to do with it.

And while this "knowing" is certainly true in the physical world, it is just a small aspect of a much larger picture. I believe that the lady's chichauhau did indeed "read" his owners and other familiar people and their possessions. But there is more to it than the physical aspect. .

More about this aspect in a future post.

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