Animal I.Q.

I love animals, and I love to discover how intelligent they can be.  Here are a few I’ve known and heard of.

I once had an indoor cat named Sam.  He was kind of frail as a kitten and thinly furred, as cats go.  The fire died out one especially cold winter night.  In the morning, Sam sat huddled in a corner, looking pinched and cold.  When he saw Albert and me, he mewed his complaint.  Then with his sparsely furred little frame still hunched up in a ball, he crossed the icy floor with tiny mincing steps to the wood stove.  Then he looked at us and began to yowl in earnest while he pawed the stove’s door handle.

I know that animals communicate with humans to an extent.  I’ve had lots of cats tell me to feed them.  Sam was the first ever to demand that I crank up the heat.

Sam was great company in the kitchen. When he was warm.

Here’s another animal who took action to fight off the cold.

There’s no accounting for the dietary preferences of some animals.  A friend of ours grew up on a farm in Mexico.  One of the farm hens took to laying her eggs in the horse’s manger every day.  When the horse caught on, he hovered over the hen.  Every so often, he used his nose to lift the hen like a lid from an omelet.  If there was no egg, he set her down and waited some more.  Once the egg was laid, he nudged the hen aside and ate it.

It’s possible that his diet lacked the 11% crude protein that horses require daily.  Or maybe he just liked his sunny side up.

I went to our car dealership to get an oil change.  There was a $5 deal on a soup and sandwich combo at their deli counter.  It was lunchtime and there wasn’t much to do but wait, so I ordered it.  I presumed that I could order any sandwich I wanted, but the cashier rang me through and tossed a pre-made sandwich in plastic wrap onto my tray.

I sat down at a table and took a bite.  I chewed.  I chewed some more.  I tried to swallow but my esophagus threw an emergency shutoff switch.  I examined the sandwich to figure out what kind of meat was in it.  It was a pasty spread like liverwurst, but kind of grey.  I wrapped it up and took it home to Magnum, our German Shepard/Lab cross.  He’s not particular about meat being fresh; in fact, dead chicken marinated two months under a sunny summer garden is his idea of five-star dining.  I handed him the sandwich.  He accepted it politely with his jaws and put it down in the grass.  He sniffed it, then looked up at me and his tail waved apologetically.  He sniffed it again, then walked away.  He didn’t look revolted, just indifferent.  The pasty grey matter in the sandwich wasn’t meat at all.

Magnum gazes soulfully at the person he adores most in the world - further proof of his extraordinary intelligence.

Magnum is savvy in other areas as well.  He is forbidden to cross the road or even to go near it.  By day, he is a model of obedience.  Without being told, he sits on the porch and waits for me when I carry the trash to the road or go for the mail.  Albert routinely leaves the house at 6:30 am to go to work.  Magnum routinely crawls out of his bed at the same time to walk him to the car.  But the odd time Albert leaves early, Magnum is AWOL or he’s running full-throttle over the neighbour’s field and across the road to sneak back to bed before he’s discovered.

He can use his intelligence to be a good boy too.  In a limited way, he is able to channel his intellect to obey or to disobey; the same as us.  I would have saved five bucks if I could channel his synthetic meat detector.


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