Dogs I Have Known

A Hungarian study finds that dogs have the social skills of a toddler.

It comes as no surprise that dogs have the social skills of a two-year-old human. 

József Topál of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences said, "Increasing evidence supports the notion that humans and dogs share some social skills, with dogs' social-cognitive functioning resembling that of a six-month to two-year-old child in many respects,” reported the Telegraph.

The Hungarian study found that if you look into the eyes of a dog when you speak to him, the dog will understand you. The study did not comment on whether the dog would actually obey you.

As someone who has lived with dogs and children, I can attest that when it comes to my staring down a dog or a two-year-old child, both the dog and the child tend to win.

The difference is a dog’s disobedience is amusing, as a dog is always more willful.

Topál’s study got me thinking about the dogs I have known.

One of my favorites was Dolly, an English setter, who lived to the ripe old age of 17 years.

Dolly was a childhood dog and with seven brothers and sisters in my family running in and out of the house, Dolly had ample opportunity to leave the grounds unnoticed. And, these were the days before dogs and children were put on leashes.

One afternoon, while some of my siblings and I were swimming in Nantucket Sound, about half a mile from our house, we saw Dolly running down the beach. Instead of coming a bit further  to  be with us at the public beach, she stopped short in front of the private Nantucket Beach Club, ran into the water and then shook herself off on some of the sunbathing members, before her return home. Dolly completely ignored our calls to join us in favor of a more prestigious swimming opportunity.

Huntley and Brinkley are littermates and my current dogs. I am not their first master. The dogs were returned to their breeder at the age of two by their previous owner, who is a prominent New Englander. I suspect it was because the dogs were not housebroken, as it took almost three months to train them. They are now 3-years-old. I like to say that my dogs were “rescued from living a life among the wealthy,” when describing how we adopted them.

I have a special fondness for these two dogs because they are the most doglike dogs I have every mastered. My other dogs were completely human.


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