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The Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2006<br><br><b>What Your Pet is Thinking</b><br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">By SHARON BEGLEY<br><br><br><br>
From the day they brought her home, the D'Avellas' black-and-white mutt loathed ringing phones. At the first trill, Jay Dee would bolt from the room and howl until someone picked up. But within a few weeks, the D'Avellas began missing calls: When the phone rang, their friends later told them, someone would pick up and then the line would go dead.<br><br><br><br>
One evening, Aida D'Avella solved the mystery. Sitting in the family room of her Newark, N.J., home, Ms. D'Avella got up as the phone rang, but the dog beat her to it. Jay Dee ran straight to the ringing phone, lifted the receiver off the hook in her jaws, replaced it and returned contentedly to her spot on the rug.<br><br><br><br>
Just about every pet lover has a story about the astonishing intelligence of his cat, dog, bird, ferret or chinchilla. Ethologists, the scientists who study animal behavior, have amassed thousands of studies showing that animals can count, understand cause and effect, form abstractions, solve problems, use tools and even deceive. But lately scientists have gone a step further: Researchers around the world are providing tantalizing evidence that animals not only learn and remember but that they may also have consciousness -- in other words, they may be capable of thinking about their thoughts and knowing that they know.<br><br><br><br>
In the past few years, top journals have been publishing reports on self-awareness in dolphins and wild chimps whose different nut-cracking "technologies" constitute unique cultures. Others argue that rats have a sense of fun, mice show empathy for cage-mates and scrub jays are capable of "mental time travel" that enables them to remember where they stashed worms and seeds.<br><br><br><br>
...<br><br><br><br>
For the 69 million U.S. households that own a pet, such knowledge might lead owners to question their animal companions' awareness of what they're fed, how they're housed and how often the kitty litter is changed.<br><br><br><br>
...<br><br><br><br>
The research is also coloring thinking about everything from science labs to farms and food-production facilities. Having demolished concrete cages in favor of naturalistic enclosures, many zoos are also offering animals "environmental enrichment" designed to exercise their minds, and housing them in social groups where they can express their emotions. The nonprofit Great Ape Project, Seattle, is campaigning on behalf of the primates for "life, liberty and protection against torture." And this year a member of the Spanish parliament introduced a resolution to protect great apes from "maltreatment, slavery, torture, death and extinction."...<br><br><br><br>
And if chimps and monkeys have hints of consciousness, do less-brainy animals have it, too? Does that mean people shouldn't hunt them, imprison them or eat them? Opponents of experimenting on animals say creatures as low on the evolutionary ladder as rats and mice are capable of suffering, even if they can't engage in self-reflection.<br><br><br><br>
...<br><br><br><br>
At the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Robert Hampton, who has made some of the field's most significant findings, studies whether rhesus monkeys know if they know something...<br><br><br><br>
...<br><br><br><br>
That suggests they knew the contents of their memory and assessed it before deciding whether to take the test -- a sign of self-reflective consciousness. "The monkeys know whether they remember something," says Prof. Hampton, who reported his latest monkey findings in May in the journal Behavioural Processes.<br><br><br><br>
A key ingredient of consciousness is having a sense of self, a feeling that there's a "you" inside your brain. One sign of that is being able to imagine yourself in a different time and place. Some scientists have said that's why chimps in a forest pick up a stone so that they can crack a nut that they left far away, and why New Caledonian crows make hook-shaped devices to fish for bugs.<br><br><br><br>
...Because the animals had to plan so far ahead, the scientists argue, the experiment showed an ability to anticipate needs. "It's hard to argue that these animals do not have consciousness," says primatologist Frans de Waal at Yerkes.<br><br><br><br>
...More and more, however, scientists are observing what they call altruistic behavior that has no evident purpose. Prof. de Waal once watched as a bonobo picked up a starling. The bonobo carried it outside its enclosure and set the bird on its feet. When it didn't fly away, the ape took it to higher ground, carefully unfolded its wings and tossed it into the air. Still having no luck, she stood guard over it and protected it from a young bonobo that was nearby.<br><br><br><br>
Since such behavior doesn't help the bonobo to survive, it's unlikely to be genetically programmed, says Marc Bekoff, emeritus professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. If a person acted this way, "we would say this reflects planning, thought and caring," he adds. "When you see behaviors that are too flexible and variable to be preprogrammed, you have to consider whether they are the result of true consciousness."<br><br><br><br>
In June, scientists reported new insights about compassion in African elephants. These animals often seem curious about the bodies of dead elephants, but no one knew whether they felt compassion for the dying or dead. A matriarch in the Samburu Reserve in northern Kenya, which researchers had named Eleanor, collapsed in October 2003. Grace, matriarch of a different family, walked over and used her tusks to lift Eleanor onto her feet, according to Iain Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Animals, Nairobi, and colleagues at the University of Oxford and the University of California, Berkeley, reporting in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science. But Eleanor was too shaky to stand. Grace tried again, this time pushing Eleanor to walk, but Eleanor again fell. Grace appeared "very stressed," called loudly and often, and kept nudging and pushing Eleanor. Although she failed, Grace stayed with the dying elephant as night fell. Eleanor died the next day. Grace's interest in an unrelated animal can't be explained by her genetic disposition to help a close relative, a behavior that's been well established. The scientists instead argue that the elephant was showing compassion. Mr. Douglas-Hamilton has also seen elephants guard and help unrelated elephants who have been hit by tranquilizer darts to let researchers tag the animals. Since standing by an animal that has been shot puts the other animals in harm's way, it's hard to argue self-interest.<br><br><br><br>
...<br><br><br><br>
The trouble is that all sorts of animals -- from those in the African bush to those in your living room -- keep acting as if they truly do have emotions remarkably like humans'. Last month, Ya Ya, a panda in a Chinese zoo, accidentally crushed her newborn to death. She seemed inconsolable -- wailing and frantically searching for the tiny body. The keeper said that when he called her name, she just looked up at him with tear-filled eyes before lowering her head again. The conventional view is that these were instinctive, reflexive reactions, and that Ya Ya didn't know she was sad. As the evidence for animal consciousness piles up, that view becomes harder to support...</div>
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rest of the article: <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116190929805905465.html" target="_blank">http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116190929805905465.html</a>
 

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Wow! (OK, I didn't read the WHOLE article) but I can certainly believe my pets are thinking MUCH more profound things than I give them credit for.<br><br><br><br>
Our cat will nose the sink faucet handle to turn on the water (just a small dribble) when she wants a drink - I was pretty amazed when we found that out.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Tempeh-Tantrums</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Wow! (OK, I didn't read the WHOLE article) but I can certainly believe my pets are thinking MUCH more profound things than I give them credit for.<br><br><br><br>
Our cat will nose the sink faucet handle to turn on the water (just a small dribble) when she wants a drink - I was pretty amazed when we found that out.</div>
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haha Sabrina has me so well trained that all she has to do is sit on the bathroom floor and meow loudly. I know what she wants. I keep some plastic cups in the bathroom, and when she does that, I fill up a cup with cold water and set it on the bathroom counter. She gleefully jumps up on the counter and drinks from the cup.
 

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This makes me think of when my baby chinchilla Chilly escaped, my cat Hank located her in obscure hiding spots in my apartment several times for me by getting my attention. Although Chilly was very vulnerable to any aggression from Hank in these situations, Hank never made a single aggressive move towards her.<br><br>
Hank is no saint- she kills mice regularly.<br><br>
But for whatever reason, she was compassionate to Chilly & saved her life on a few occasions by indicating where she was. My human senses just weren't sharp enough.<br><br>
Beautiful article Irizary.
 

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This is awesome:<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">A key ingredient of consciousness is having a sense of self, a feeling that there's a "you" inside your brain. One sign of that is being able to imagine yourself in a different time and place. Some scientists have said that's why chimps in a forest pick up a stone so that they can crack a nut that they left far away, and why New Caledonian crows make hook-shaped devices to fish for bugs.</div>
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Great article, thank you for posting this! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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My wife and I had a tomcat (or, he had us) that slept with us, and when he wanted out of the bedroom he would go to the door, stretch up and turn the round doorknob with his paws, push the door open and leave the room.<br><br><br><br>
That door opened the wrong way (the back door was nearby), so one day I reversed the door and jamb. We went to bed that night, and Frisky got up in a few minutes to leave. I told my wife "Watch this, he's going to be all confused". She said "No, he was in here watching you when you changed it". Yeah, sure.<br><br><br><br>
Frisky went to the door, directly to the new/opposite side, turned the knob, PULLED the door open and left.<br><br><br><br>
Poor dumb animals, my foot.
 

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I love articles like this. I especially liked the story about the bonobo chimpanzee and the starling.<br><br><br><br>
Thanks, Irizary.
 

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Awesome article.<br><br><br><br><br><br>
Nice cat stories, too. I can relate. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/tongue3.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":p">
 

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<i><span>Reminds me much of my dear Saint St.Francis of Assisi. He loved and communicate with the animals like humans. Truly his respect to them shows how much he acknowledge how great GOD created them for a good purpose.</span></i>
 
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