Animal Intelligence

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Its not something that I question. Having cared for over forty cats and dogs, I know they are smart, clever and wise. Not all of them of course but then that applies to we humans too. Recently I saw a program on SBS Insight titled “Puppy Love”. (www.sbs.com.au/insight/) Scientists, bless their little cotton socks, were trying to assess whether dogs are capable of love or just giving us what we want for their ultimate benefit. Well, to get close to answering that question we have to ask another more profound one first. What is love? Something that poets and philosophers of every culture and generation have been continuously debating. And then this inevitably leads to questions, if we finally find out that they are, will we value them more ? And then there’s this question ; are we humans capable of unconditional love as so many animals can be?
As visual creatures who rely on the spoken word (which can be often less than truthful particularly when we reflect on the undying declarations of love in life and literature which have turned out to be false) we can be unconscious to the many subtle ways in which animals communicate and demonstrate their love for us.
All the animals which I have cared for felt the absence of their owners in the first couple of days. Happily they adjusted and came to accept me as I continue their routine and reassure them that I am not leaving too. I prefer to meet them first in the company of their owners so that they know I have permission to stay with them. Cats are mostly more pragmatic than dogs and will accept me after an initial period of testing but invariably become cool a few days before their owners return. Somehow they know this.
All the pets, whether cats, dogs, horses or chickens (yes they can be pets.i once cared for a group who were named after eighties rock stars! Elton, David and Mick, the little red rooster) respond to my emotional state. If I am calm and regularly practice my meditation, they respond. Many of them learn to settle down and enter their own peaceful state next to me or nearby.
The history of our relationship with animals we have domesticated has not always been a happy one. All too often it has been utilitarian with the emphasis on our reliance on their skills and senses  which we have left behind in our evolution. We have allowed for exceptional instances of animal love, intelligence and devotion to come to our awareness but we have so much more to learn. Every animal can teach us something about the state of love and I have certainly learnt a lot from all my animal companions since becoming a house sitter
And so Id like to thanks Archie, Della, Gypsy, Lola, Roxy, Boof, Skippy, Twosy, Spin, the Girls, Penny, Jeddah, Rusty, Bonnie, Sam, Mischka, Charlie, Ben, Tess, Parker, Levi, Alice, Grey, Boofy, Jasper, Jessie, Basil, Myf, Pen, Martika, David, Elton, Mick, Mrs Whippy,Mouk, Minnie, Touka, Ben, Mickey, Sascha Duke and many more animal companions for sharing their love and wisdom with me

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