Many people believe animals are incapable of thinking. That belief usually disappears the first time you realize you’ve just been outsmarted by your dog.
Last week I stopped by a local fast food place for lunch. On the way out I decided a medium chocolate shake would be the perfect desert to top off the meal. I ambled over to the counter to order — and before I said a word the clerk walked up and set a medium chocolate shake on the counter in front of me. I looked at the shake. “Aaaaaaaah! How did he know?!” I thought. My mind scrambled for some sort of explanation that didn’t violate the laws of physics. I hadn’t ordered...had I? I couldn’t remember ordering. Did I have a mental fugue and forget I had ordered? Was the clerk telepathic? Had I been mumbling about wanting a medium chocolate milk shake, and the clerk overheard me? If so, what else might I have been mumbling about? Think, Josh, think! Maybe I just had a face that’s easy to read. Perhaps when I walked in the clerks all glanced at me and thought, “Oh yeah, that guy has medium chocolate milk shake written all over him.” The answer is much simpler: the gentleman in line in front of me had also ordered a medium chocolate shake. He stepped up, took HIS milkshake, and moved on to whatever was next on his agenda for the day. Then I had to deal with saying, “Yeah, I’ll have what he had,” and having everyone in the place think I was a copy-cat. . . . . . Many people believe animals are incapable of thinking. (That belief usually disappears the first time you realize you’ve just been outsmarted by your dog.) Last weekend I went upstairs to take a nap. Rufus the Wonder Dog and his little sister, Raffi the Dog of Destiny, each decided they wanted to be the one lying next to me. First Rufus curled up beside me. Raffi stood on the bedroom floor glaring up at him, then ran downstairs. A few seconds later, she began barking at something terribly exciting going on in the back yard. From the fuss she was making, I had no doubt a chorus line of cats was high-kicking its way across the grass. Rufus lay with his head down, staring at the bedroom door for as long as he could stand it. Finally, he launched himself off the bed and shot downstairs to see what was going on. Ten seconds later, Raffi bolted up the stairs, into the bedroom, and flung herself onto the bed. She snuggled up next to me, radiating smugness the way a block of uranium radiates gamma rays. Rufus trotted upstairs and stopped in the doorway when he found his little sister in his spot. He glared at her for several seconds, then ran downstairs. I waited to see what was coming next. Sure enough, after a minute or so I heard Rufus tossing around some doggy toy in the living room. He growled and snarled and shook it back and forth, obviously having a grand time. Raffi, who loves playing tug-of-war with Rufus, lay beside me for at least a minute, ears twitching, listening to the party going on in the living room. Then she launched herself off the bed and shot downstairs to see what was going on. Ten second later, Rufus.... Well, you get the idea. That switchover went on another two or three times before they got bored and took a nap curled up beside each other on the living room couch. But animals can’t think. Riiiiiight.