I pretty much think “smart dogs” is an oxymoron, like the two most famous ones George Carlin made popular: “military intelligence” and “jumbo shrimp”. Don’t get me wrong. I have three dogs and I love them all, but there are other qualities I love them for. What those are, I have yet to figure out, but intelligence is not one of them. Let me tell you how smart my dogs are: if they were people, they would still be sending money to Bernie Madoff, c/o Federal Penitentiary, USA. Especially if he had ever patted them on the head once and said, “Good doggie”.
It amazes me that dog owners want to brag about how smart their dogs are. I mean, the dog does something completely doggish, like stand at the door and bark to go out, and the owners are ready to enroll him in Yale. It never ceases to amaze me how much people are invested in the intelligence of their dogs, like it’s a reflection on them. Tying your worth to the intelligence of your dog makes the same kind of sense Grandpa uses to convince himself his manliness is restored by buying a candy-apple red sports car.
People mistakenly think dogs are smarter than cats, because dogs, allegedly, can be trained. So let me get this straight. Why is it such a big accomplishment for a dog to sit on command? The only thing dogs like better than sitting is lying down. I picture the cat watching this display of dog “intelligence” and saying to itself, “Would you look at that fool. He still thinks he’s going to get a treat for that, even though the last time that happened was Tuesday, November 3rd, 1996.”
In the dog v. cat intelligence contest, I submit the following example. I first caught on to who was smartest when this happened: in one of the places I used to live, I had a sunroom (aka, “Florida room”, in these parts) where I kept the water bowl that was shared by the dogs and the cats. When the bowl ran out of water, I would take it to the sink to fill it up. All the dogs would follow me and stand around panting and salivating, sometimes jumping up to put their front paws on the edge of the sink. Meanwhile, the cats parked themselves in the Florida room in the exact spot they knew the bowl would be returning to. I rest my case.
Just this week I dropped a microscopic piece of chicken on the floor, which was instantly snarfed up by my dog The Beast. He spent the next hour scouring every corner of the house, growling the whole time at the other two dogs to stay away from the chicken that absolutely must be there somewhere.
There actually are some “smart” dogs, which I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t actually had one in the past, but even that was relative. There was a certain absence of creativity in his approach to problem-solving. His idea of solving a problem was to eat it. Thankfully, I don’t measure my own intelligence by that of my dogs, which is very fortunate given the dogs I have now. If I were only as smart as they were, I’d have to sign myself up for Barack Obama’s bowling team.