Since it was close to ten when we arrived at Avila Beach this morning, John and Shadow waited graciously while I went to get my Latte; then we walked a half to three quarters of a mile or so down to San Luis Pier where dogs can race around sans leash all day. I’d been talking to Shadow all morning about the fact that we were going to take him to the beach but since the line at the coffee house was twenty minutes long, I figured that he’d begun to think that I’d promised him something I could not deliver… again.
When we got to San Luis pier and I took his leash off, Shadow stood, looked around, then slowly, cautiously, walked down the concrete boat ramp to the beach, then he stopped, turned back to look at me clearly asking, “Are you going to call me back?” When I did nothing but grin at him, he started to trot down to the beach, then run, first to the people, then to their dogs.
As I caught up to Shadow, the people and their dogs, I first said hi to their dog, as is my habit, then to the person, to ask them about their dog. What kind is she or he if not immediately obvious, grinning at the dog and at the people and at Shadow. And I realized that this type of casual conversation, I am really good at: talking about dogs, their dog, where they found them, if a rescue, what rescue center, as many details as they care to offer. I have an agenda these days-I’m hoping we can find another dog but as I think about why walking on a beach watching people play with their dogs is so much fun for me, I realize for the billionth time that dogs teach us happiness. They are the gurus, the experts on happiness.
Recently, I’ve discovered a delightful blog called, Coffee with A Canine and a book called The Genius of Dogs which is advertised on Marshal’s site. A title like that was, of course, irresistible to me, so I bought it and downloaded onto my Kindle. Authors Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods claim that dogs are the most successful mammals on the planet next to us. Canine research has uncovered an average ‘vocabulary’ for dogs of somewhere between 100 to 500 words understood between dogs and us.But recently, research is centering on the almost unbelievable ability of dogs to interpret accurately the behavior of humans. Hare and Woods turn the research around in an intriguing claim that their intelligence improved after the fact.
After what fact?
After they used their innate friendliness, interest in humans-their genius- developed as a consequence to their friendliness. Shadow is the friendliest dog on the planet-ergo a genius.
Lin Wilder, DrPH is a former Hospital Director. She now writes full-time.