By: Dave Gershman, Ann Arbor News
Thursday, January 03, 2008
From the article:
Barbara Smuts thought this dog owner must be a crackpot. The woman from Maryland kept insisting her dog was going into the backyard and arranging his many plush toys into geometric shapes of circles, parallel lines and triangles.
Come on, you must be helping him, responded Smuts, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan who studies canine social behavior.
And if you're not, the neighbors must be playing a trick on you, she said.
The woman steadfastly ruled out Smuts's reservations, and the professor eventually flew to Maryland to visit the woman and her dog, Donnie. Smuts now believes Donnie is, in fact, creating the displays.
Cable TV viewers will be able to make up their minds about Donnie on Sunday, when he and Smuts will be featured on a National Geographic Channel documentary called "Dog Genius.'' The show airs at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. [More on the documentary below.]
Donnie, a male Doberman, was at first reluctant to perform for Smuts, probably because he was more excited about having a new person in the house.
So she suggested the woman install a few security cameras, which recorded Donnie in the act, moving his more than 80 plush toys into geometric shapes and creating social vignettes with them.
"She actually got some significant footage of him,'' Smuts said. "Not as much as I would like, but enough to show that he's doing it, and it's not something he has been trained to do, and it's completely spontaneous.'' ...
To read the entire article, visit the Ann Arbor News website at: http://www.mlive.com/annarbor/stories/index.ssf?/base/news-25/1198309257106770.xml&coll=2.
Dog Genius documentary on National Geographic Channel
See Professor Barbara Smuts' canine research, as well as other dog experts on a National Geographic documentary about canine cognition. The show will appear on the National Geographic channel several times. It is currently scheduled to appear:
See the National Geographic channel website to schedule an email or cellphone reminder, and to stay up to date with any changes in the show schedule.
- Sunday December 23rd @ 8pm and 11pm
- Sunday, December 30th @ 1pm
- Friday, February 1st @ 4pm, 7pm and 11pm
- Saturday, February 2nd @ 2am
From National Geographic's website:
We share the planet with 400 million dogs : toy dogs, working dogs, champion dogs and artistic dogs; dogs who know what to do in an emergency; and dogs who know their way around a couch. For over 12,000 years, they've been our essential survival aids and our constant companions. But how smart are dogs? Most dog owners would say they're geniuses and point to their pup as living proof. National Geographic joins scientists and dog trainers to explore the dog smarts in surprising new ways, unlocking the truth about man's best friend.