Strange happenings at the animal house

I recently wrote a column about our pets being able to read our minds. I’ve read at least one study that suggests because we’ve basically evolved with dogs as our companions for the last couple of thousand years or so, we have a special connection with them that could amount to some degree of mind reading.

I reported recently in the StarNews Animal Tales column on two strange instances at home, where our dogs seemed to be reading our minds.

What happened today adds to the evidence … or the mystery – whichever you prefer.

Ernie is a young basset-lab mix we adopted several months ago. He and I have become very close and he loves to play tug with me – with stuffed animals or in particular with a special toy that is long and specially made for games of tug.

Now understand that we do some minimal basic training with our dogs – the sit and stay and stuff like that, but otherwise we believe in just letting dogs be dogs and let it go at that. They jump up on us excitedly when we come home and they’re all over the furniture. I sometimes have to sit on the floor to watch TV.

I study animal behavior. I’m not a trainer. I research through observation.

Let’s get back to the Ernie story. I was thinking yesterday that Ernie had been bringing me stuffed animals to tug with for the last few days and he has not been using the tug toy. We found it in the yard yesterday but did not bring it in.

Earlier today, with the back door open, I thought about the tug toy and told Ernie to run out and get it and bring it inside – and I pointed to the back door. He raced out in a sprint. I told my wife that if he actually brought the tug toy in I was going to be shocked.

I was shocked. A short moment later, I was trying to direct another of our dogs to his area for mealtime and suddenly realized Ernie was standing right behind me – with the special tug toy. Coincidence? – Maybe. Understanding my request? – Maybe?


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