Many of us have dogs and we know that sometimes they are way ahead of us with an intuition that is quite astonishing. One wonders though just how much people do understand about the intelligence of our canine pals?
Walking around the City we often come across someone whose life has been transformed by having a guide dog. The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association have for many years taken adorable puppies and trained them to become the eyes of someone in need, those dogs often go far beyond the expectations of most of us through excellent training and through sheer companionship and love. Hearing dogs too give support and love to their owners, whilst others are trained to load the washer and pick up socks etc.
Whilst most of us only want to cuddle small pups, more aware folks see a potential value that the rest of us are unaware of, no doubt they give them a cuddle too.
The human eye, along with our dynamic brain, is profoundly capable of spotting any threat or potential risk; Dynamic Risk Assessment. Dogs do not have all of the same mental processes as humans but they do use their noses to inform them of what is happening around them in a way that people cannot do, this combination of their love of ‘fun’, innate intelligence, and loyalty makes appropriate dogs a superb asset.
Dogs are trained currently to detect the presence of narcotics, being able to separate out those illegal substances from surrounding scents with amazing accuracy, your family’s Springer Spaniel or Cocker Spaniel is brighter than maybe you give it credit for. These same breeds are used to find human remains also.
Soldiers of the British Army, and other armies across the world, use dogs to ‘sniff out’ IED’s, those hideous booby traps aimed at maiming and killing people. Many a soldier, and civilian, can give thanks to a dog for his or her life, not to mention the basic human need of unconditional love given so freely. Coping with hardship can be made bearable by a friendly dog.
These canine detectors are able to spot malignant tumours in humans that may have gone unnoticed, and dogs are increasingly being used for that purpose. In The Palatinate, the Durham Independent Student Newspaper of June 16th, Philip Myers reports on the training of dogs to identify Malaria, a disease that still costs far too many lives across the world, he says,‘Malaria is the latest target of research, and Professor Steve Lindsay of the School of Biological and Biomedical sciences here in Durham has recently been awarded a prestigious Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to look into the possibility of using dogs to detect infections’.
Dogs may be dumb animals but they are intelligent. Next time your pooch gives you doe-eyes or barks at you check it out it may be trying to tell you something, it’s feeding time, or time for walkies. Love your dog and it will love you back.