Reader Contest: How Smart are They?

Reader Contest: How Smart are They?

My little white dog, Elika, loves to play. Her energy and joy seem boundless. She craves long walks, running in gigantic circles on the lawn, chasing squirrels and rabbits at break-neck speed (she knows she’s not allowed to catch them and will pull back when she starts to close in on them). When she feels I’ve been sitting at my computer for too long—and this is the only time she will do this—she comes into my office to get me, sits quietly next to my chair for a few minutes, then nudges my arm with her nose, insisting I come into the living room. Then she ambles over to her toy box and stares into it, until I choose a toy and play with her. Once I’ve taken this small break, she allows me to return to my work, uninterrupted.

One day, when I was living in a two-story house, I’d run upstairs to grab a sweater. Elika, a friend of mine, and I were getting ready to pile into the car and drive to a nearby state park to walk the trails. Elika was excited, and when I ran upstairs, she wanted to follow me. I asked her to stay downstairs, told her I’d be right back, and then we’d go for a ride. She sat at the foot of the stairs and watched me go up.

When I headed back down, seconds later, I didn’t see Elika. That was odd. Usually when I’m getting ready to go somewhere, she stays close by, worrying that she will be left behind (which rarely happens). I assumed she must have gone off to the kitchen to play with my friend. But when I reached the last step, Elika, who had been hiding around the corner, suddenly leapt out at me, a huge grin on her face. I was laughing so hard, I had to sit down on the step. Thoroughly pleased with herself and her joke, she covered my face with kisses.

To illustrate the intelligence of animals, their ability to recognize cause-effect relationships, their ability to tell jokes, I recently told this story at my Introduction to Animal Communication class. One of my students topped it.

She and her husband had been lying in bed watching TV one evening, when they heard their two dogs running around downstairs. They heard the smallest of the two run up the stairs and into the bathroom. It was panting hard. Suddenly, there was silence. The woman went into the bathroom to see what was going on. The little dog had jumped into the bathtub, was sitting entirely motionless, and was holding its breath!

The woman, not wanting to disturb the game, went back into the bedroom. Within seconds, the larger dog came bounding up the stairs and into the bedroom. He looked around the room, then looked at the couple, asking, “Where is he?” The woman said, “He went that way!” and pointed out into the hallway, towards the stairs. The dog ran out of the bedroom and down the stairs.

The little dog in the bathtub started panting again, jumped out of the bathtub, ran into the bedroom and into the couple’s bed, where he curled up for a nap.

I could tell you many more stories: the young, untrained horse who got tangled up in a fallen tree and stood quietly while the branches were cut away, then allowed himself to be backed out of the maze and led to safety before releasing his tension in a fit of bucking; the dog who brought a disabled child back into the house after the child had wandered away and then, after herding the child safely inside, went to find the child’s mother and reprimand her; the horse who let himself out of his stall, raided the feed room, then went back into his stall and latched the door.

But I’d rather hear your stories! And so I’ve set up a contest. Send your best story about an animal that exhibited thinking skills (cause-effect, problem solving, jokes). The winner will receive a certificate for a free Animal Communication session; the top three will be published in my December column.

The deadline for getting your stories to me is November 1.
The address is

Let the world know how smart your critters are!

Until next month,

Be well,


P.S. For those of you who read last month’s column, the woman whose horse I wrote about wrote to say she’s found a trimmer to do a physiologically correct barefoot trim on her guy, and he’s now doing much better. So, while she was initially resistant, she did end up listening to her horse.

*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in October 2007.

© 2007 by Pamela Sourelis