Saturday, December 11, 2004

Dream On

Earlier this week it snowed. It started snowing during the night and was still snowing early in the morning when Sandy woke up. This was exciting news from Sandy's point of view. She loves the snow, and it was such an important development that Sandy had to wake me up as soon as she noticed.

snow dog
Snow Dog

The first day she woke me at 6:30am. She showed up at the bedroom door and whined the way Lassie does when Timmy is stuck in the well. Next day it was still dark, but snowing, when I awoke thinking I'd better go see about that well. It was still sometime in the 5's. I didn't get up right away, but I didn't get back to sleep, either.

That night I went to bed thinking how great it would be if it didn't snow and I could sleep until the alarm at 7:20. Although it didn't snow that night, I dreamed that Sandy woke me up. She was in the dream with me. I heard her voice, like a human voice in the dream. She said, "Wake up, Cate! It's snowing! We have to go out RIGHT NOW!"

I woke up, got up, looked outside. No snow. I looked at the bedroom door. No dog. I found her sleeping soundly in her crate, and she was startled awake when I showed up. She sighed and stretched and turned around and settled down again, closed her eyes and went back to sleep. Maybe she dreamed about snow.

Math And Science

In his new book, “How Dogs Think: Understanding the Canine Mind”, Stanley Coren spends a part of a chapter discussing The Mathematical Mind of Dogs. Dogs, that count, dogs that can distinguish which thing is larger than the other thing, and canine calculus.

That dogs know math comes as no surprise to me. Certainly Sandy is much better at math than I am. We walk parts of the Mission Creek Greenway three or four times a week. It's a public park, crescent-shaped, and it follows the creek. At irregular intervals there are trash cans where dog owners are expected to deposit our little bags full of dog poop.

Dogs easily find the farthest distance between two trashcans
Dogs easily find the farthest distance between two trashcans.

In this crude sketch, the X’s mark the most frequent spots (!!) for dogs to relieve themselves. How do they know it's the farthest point from the can ahead and the can behind? I don't know. But I see a lot of people carrying these little bags, not just me. Yesterday I heard a man call his dog "Hypotenuse."

Dogs know something about science, too. Our dog, while not a scientist, is a willing participant in scientific experiments. Think of her as a technician.

She waits hopefully by the stove and by the kitchen table, ready to alert The Authorities the moment the laws of gravity are repealed. She'll know because food will cease to fall to the floor where she can pick it up "before the germs get to it."

This has never happened, but she remains optimistic.