I woke up at an impossibly early hour and found a fascinating program about dogs on PBS last night. A woman outside of Vienna has a dog who can identify up to 300 different objects by name. A trainer and scientist wanted to push it further. The owner would hold up different toys and the black herder dog would fetch it, time and again they were able to distinguish a unique toy she held up.
Then she did the same thing but used photographs instead of showing the dog the three-dimensional object. The little black border collie once again had no problem running into the kitchen and fetching just the right toy, out of dozens of different choices.
Then scientists in Hungary found tiny baby wolves and tried raising them as dogs in a home. It was clearly not going to work, things that the dogs did such as respond to a pointing gesture went right over the wolf’s heads. They didn’t care what the humans wanted, they were unable to learn to restrain themselves. They lept up on tables, smashing into things to get food, they never could be trained to obey or to follow instructions.
The scientists explained that after four months of them leaping toward the open refrigerator and savagely fighting for food, they couldn’t keep them inside any more. They returned the wolves to the pack in the wild.