September 28, 2012

snippets, 9-28-12

Animals are conscious and should be treated as such (h/t dangerousmeta!).

Yay to the scientists for saying this plainly. And from here, case in point: Pan has learned to pretend he's asleep.

When Bren  leaves for work in the morning, she asks Pan to get in his crate. A couple mornings ago, as she was preparing to leave, she found Pan sleeping on her bed. She said, "Go get in your bed," which is his cue to get in his crate, but he didn't react. She turned to do something else, but out of the corner of her eye saw him lift his head to watch her from behind. When she turned back to him, he flopped his head down and closed his eyes, feigning sleep.

He repeated the performance the next morning. Pan is typically underfoot, but Bren noticed that he dissappeared when she was getting ready to leave. She found him on the couch, curled up, eyes closed - just way, way too tuckered out, you know, to get up again and get in his own bed.

It's not that he doesn't like his crate. He usually responds quickly and enthusiastically when we ask him to get in. He eats in it and sleeps in it every night.

It's no surprise at all to see that he knows Bren's "leaving for work" routine. The dogs know exactly when it's time to go for a walk, when it's time for dinner, etc. But reacting to a cue by pretending to be asleep? This guy isn't just conscious - he's thinking strategically.

Another clue to Pan's self-awareness: Sometimes when the dogs are playing and Ondine gets a little rough, Pan will yelp or hide behind a chair or something. Ondine dials down the intensity and then they carry on, but if a person is around and Pan sees that the person has noticed his distress, he'll start screaming bloody murder and run to the person for sympathy, just like a child who cries only when he sees that his caregiver is watching. (And just as with a child, the best way to get him to knock off the drama is to ignore it.)

I could go on all day. (One of my favorite things in life is Ondine's, "Ha, I'm just messin' with you" routine. But I'll save that for some other time.)

I'm a fan of the theory of epigenetics as far as I understand it, and I wouldn't be surprised if border collies are sneaking up on their singularity more quickly than we're approaching ours. When that happens, we're gonna have some serious 'splainin to do...


  1. He is tooooo smart !! You should write a book (others have) with his
    shenanighans. Character=A+

  2. Wow! What a clever fellow. I do think Aidan's got a few tricks up his sleeves too. And the cats, of course, are all over it.