September 16th 2004 2:13 pm
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The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote last year for two canine websites. By observing Bern's actions, I am convinced that canines are a lot more intelligent than most of the general population gives them credit for being.
Willow (Bern's mom)
Over the years, I've observed a variety of emotions, actions, and almost hard-to-believe incidents with my dogs. The following is an example of memory and comprehension demonstrated by Bernie (a Border Collie puppy that I rescued from an abusive owner). It was at the tender age of only seven weeks old that he joined our doggie family, which consisted at that time, of Ruby (a very old St. Bernard/Collie, who incidentally, was a rescued doggie), and Nokie, a 5 yr. old Golden Retriever.
Bern learned good habits from both Nokie and Ruby, but Nokie was his best buddy and mentor. When Bern was five, Nokie died suddenly of what was most likely a brain aneurysm. Arriving home one day from a trip to the beach with Bern and Nokie, we (hubby and I), opened the car doors to let the dogs out for their normal racing and running through the field and rolling in the grass to loosen any traces of the beach sand from their coats. While unloading the car, I looked out to check on the dogs. Bern was standing near-by, and Nokie was lying motionless out in the middle of the field. There was no response when I called out his name. Hubby and I, along with Bern, ran to where Nokie was lying, only to find that our Nokie boy was gone.
I won't dwell on the shock of our appalling discovery; instead, I want to tell you about Bern. While Nokie was still lying there on the ground, we allowed Bern to sniff his body and discover for himself that Nokie's spirit was gone. Bern was also standing near us and watching as we dug a grave next to my hubby's shop and buried our Nokie. For days after, Bern acted with-drawn, which could have been due to the grief-stricken atmosphere surrounding his humans or.. it could have been his own feelings of loneliness/confusion at Nokie's absence.
Just over a year later. I was sitting out in the yard with Bern, talking to him. I told Bern that I really missed our Nokie, and asked him if he remembered Nokie and missed our buddy. With his brows a little furrowed, Bern gave me that penetrating Border Collie stare. I asked again if he remembered our Nokie and Bern shifted his body ever so slightly, never taking his eyes from mine.
I then pointedly asked Bern, "Where is Nokie?" Bern stood up, turned around and headed across the field in a direct line towards the shop. I quietly followed a short distance behind and watched while Bern walked around the corner of the shop to Nokie's grave site and stopped directly in front of it. Needless to say, I was in awe of his ability to not only recognize what I had asked, but to actually remember Nokie.
What is significant about Bern's action is that there are three pet graves in a row next to my hubby's shop, and out of the three, Bern chose Nokie's.
Comprehension and memory? Yes, animals will reveal those attributes if we, their human companions, will only take the time to "listen" and communicate with our little buddies.
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