Some years ago, Dr. Stanley Cohen the brilliant psychologist and exceptional canine analyst who has published a number of books on the subject of dogs, became famous for a list. In spite of all the fine research he has done and his appearances in newspapers, on radio and television, where he excelled in discussing a wide variety of topics about dogs, he actually wasn’t that well known until . . . The List.
In his book, The Intelligence of Dogs (1995; 2006), he provided a carefully researched list indicating which breeds were the smartest – and, ah hem, not so smart. Naturally, custodians of canines who were near the tail-end (pardon the pun) of the list, couldn’t agree. At that time, I had a dog at the very bottom of his list: the Afghan hound.
My husband felt that Dr. Cohen’s compilation was exactly correct (he often said that our dog, while beautiful, had the intelligence of a rock – and that was giving the rock a compliment).
I, however, believed my exceptional Afghan knew exactly what to do and what we wanted, but because he was brilliant he refused to be subjugated to our human will. My previous Afghan hound was exactly the same way. I admired the dogs for their independence and adored both of them. In spite of this more “objective” appraisal, I was truly insulted when I went to a local dog show and the crowd laughed when a man entered his Afghan into the obedience trials. People can be cruel.
Now we have a new intelligence tool called, appropriately enough: “Dognition.” The test uses twenty different games to measure the following attributes: empathy, communication, cunning, memory and reasoning. For a one-time assessment, the test costs $19 and is available through this web site: https://www.dognition.com.
Here’s how it works. You play the games from “dognition” and record the results. Then, you submit it and find out if your dog fits one of the following nine categories: an Ace, Charmer, Socialite, Expert, Renaissance Dog, Protodog, Einstein, Maverick or Stargazer.
On the fun side of doing this test is learning which of the attributes above may be most applicable to your dog. For example, an “Ace” dog is a problem-solver, socially elite, bonds well and is good at almost everything.
They describe a “Maverick” as a dog with “a cheeky wolfishness and a strong independent streak.” (Gosh, don’t you just love a test which includes the word: “cheeky” in its analysis? OK, I’m going a wee bit off track…)
An “Einstein” is, of course, a genius, able to solve new problems by looking at the facts in front of him or her – and respond accordingly.
One thing the test doesn’t show but, I think, can be inferred is the custodian’s compatibility with their own dog. I’m darn sure me and my dog would fit the Einstein profile, at least the way it’s described: “making inferences that we can flexibly solve a problem we have never encountered before.” For example, if someone were to put a row of chocolates in front of me I know to eat them all up without delay! And if I put a row of dog treats in front of my dog, I do not need to tell him what to do. He will gobble them up immediately. I don’t have to do anything silly like asking him to “sit,” “stand,” “get off the bed!” or anything else. He has the facts and he knows what to do.
Gosh, it’s good to know after all this time, and two dogs that were at the bottom of the intelligence list, I finally have an Einstein.