This marvelous, handsome, intelligent, funny, spoiled four footed baby of mine is christened Zero. He is a great big Alaskan Malamute - a kind of domesticated dog which is usually associated to arctic sled dogs. His face has black masklike facial markings that you usually see in a raccoon's masked face. His eyes are brown. His ears are erect and triangular in shape. He has a grayish white wooly thick coat which I love to bear hug, and a black curled bushy tail that always wagged in the air signaling a welcoming smile.
As Zero is growing, I learn a lot more of himself. His strength and speed make him the gladiator of dogs. He always runs here, there and everywhere, chasing after squirrels, raccoons and birds. He plays with me fetch the ball, tag of war, hide and seek, running around the house and even pillow wrestling. But with all of these childish/ doggish interactions, there is something missing between us - communication.
Most of us usually ignore this lovely cuddly being, simply because we label them as dogs, an animal, a low life-form. But I am sorry to disagree, these dogs are just like us humans and humans are nothing more than dogs. We might be unique in physical appearances but all of us are close relatives. They may have four feet, but they are more skilled and more intelligent than we are. They are loving, caring and most of all they are more that simply a friend. But the burden of understanding them is within us. So the best way to understand them is to put ourselves into their shoes - be a dog – an intelligent One.
I devised a communication technique so Zero can talk to me. If you taught your dog how to sit, then it tells me that you have the time, persistence and patience. And these three major attributes are the most important contributing factors to teach them how to communicate.
But let us talk first what is communication? Probably when you were a kid, you love playing this simple milk cans string telephone system. One end of this simple telephone line is inside your room and the other end is inside your tree house. You talk at one end and your friend receives your message at the other end. This is a one way communication. But when your friend sends back another message, then this becomes a two way communication. We call it conversation. When you say to your dog “down” and he is still sitting, conversation is not present. When you say to your dog “down” and he obediently lies down, smile and pat yourself on the back, conversation took place.
In the real world, all things in our minds are nothing but ideas. They are abstract in nature. They are not factual, physical, real or something that you can hold or feel likes a solid material object. And the funny thing, when you express them out through your senses, they come out as abstract too. When you think of an apple and send this image of an apple to your hand so to speak, the apple stays as an image on your hand. Literally, your hand does not have the ability to create a physical apple. When you say sit to your dog, your dog does not have a single clue what is the word sit means. Your dog does not even have a slightest idea, even an image picture of “sitting” in his mind. Your commands are all abstract and for your dog, they are nothing but high and low pitches. These are like the dit and dat in a morse code. There are no words to hear, but conversation is taking place.
Zero is using this "dit-dat" combination of communication to get my attention. I discovered this when I always stop him from munching my colorful kindergarten chair. I sit on this small chair every time I teach zero a new trick in the backyard. Every time he tosses my chair, like wrestling it all over the place, moving from the cemented patio to the wooden deck, he always creates this annoying noise. A noise that will prompt me to get up from the couch, walk to the screened sliding door while whistling a sharp shushing sound to make him stop. I thought before that this playful scene was just an ordinary dog game; just like how he plays with his favorite squirrel doll, his soccer ball and his string and plastic bones. But an "ahah" moment came to me one day when I was watching him playing with his rug doll and comparing his playing behavior with the small chair. The chair was the turning point in figuring out Zero is trying to talk to me using visual objects.
He programmed me to get my attention, to slide the door open and to let him get inside the house. A nice strategic move from Zero. So I decided to design a simple experiment that will confirm my gut feeling. When zero is playing with his doll, I purposely show up myself in front of him and slowly open the sliding door for him to get inside. I go back watching TV and wait for him to get in. But zero will just be exhausted without even getting up a single step out of his cushion. But when zero starts playing with the chair, banging it around to get my attention, he knows that I will automatically open the sliding door. And once I open the door and get back to my couch, Zero will follow me inside the house.
During this experiment, Zero did not know that every time he bangs the chair, I sneak up from my couch from the inside just to observe his natural actions outside. Surprisingly, every time he bangs the chair, he will secretly glance at the sliding door for me, and if I do not show up, he will bang the chair harder and continuously in a playful manner. This behavior just proves that actions speak louder than words. This also proves that communication is not only done through speaking - it can also be done thru eye contact, touch, smell or simply waving an object. By the way the sense of touch is the first sensor to evolve and is the first form of communication.
Human beings are the funniest creatures on earth. We love to complicate our lives. We create a lot of words like apple, banana, orange and many more. We create all these words factory game in order that other humans will understand us. But do we really need them? Yes we do! You will not have the ability to read my article if words were not created. But it is wrong to think that communication can only be done through speaking words alone! Chimpanzees do not need this complex way of memorizing words to communicate. When a chimp wants an apple, all he needs to do is point to an apple. If he needs a banana, he does not need to memorize the word banana, stores it in his memory bank, or says the word banana. Logically he simply points to the banana.
But pointing with your finger is not the only forms of communication. You can point using your eyes, by rolling your eyeballs; your nose, your lips and with your ears. If you can wiggle them. Just kidding. Seriously, what I am saying here is that we can communicate using our five external senses: hands (touching), eyes (seeing), mouth (tasting), ears (hearing) and nose (smelling). Zero might be different, but he has all the senses that humans have. He might not say a word but he can talk to us using his other senses. Zero does it through body language or senses. A wagging tail is a sign language of a friendly behavior, a welcoming smile or a warm relaxing hugs.
Zero, applying his visual approach, can even ask food anytime he needs it. And if you want to learn this technique, you need to teach first your dog how to "bring me" a thing. You can start this by asking your dog to get anything you want by simply pointing to that object. Once he learns getting things by pointing, then it is now time to associate all these objects to his needs. If you associate a bell as "let me go out", then everytime he picks it up you let your dog out. If you associate a plate as "give me food", then everytime he picks up the plate give him some food. If you associate a soccer ball as "can we play", then when he picks up the ball be sure to play with him.
Right now I decided to change the way I teach Zero. Zero will tell me what is in his mind by "visual talk" (VT). Every action he does, whether it is through "barking", body language, eye contact or simply picking up stuff, I will make it a point to understand what is in his thoughts. This will be a great challenge but I know I will learn something from him.
One good example how zero excites my thoughts is by playing with his favorite red soccer ball. We usually start the game at the center of the backyard. He will bring the ball under my legs as we hold it together. In a croaching position, I will count one to ten, jerk out the ball under my legs and give it a mighty toss behind me. Zero will excitedly fetch the ball, run it back all the way to his goal (a makeshift bed with a heavy-duty futon mattress) and look at me as if he was saying "I win". After then he will come back to me with the ball on his mouth and start all over again. One time during our play, I was tackled up to the air and fell down on my side. I just laughed at the incident as I was standing and brushing myself up as zero looked at me with a laughing face. Now, Zero is 102 pounds and seven months old.
Another example of this VT is when everytime I sit on the porch, Zero will come to me with a tennis ball on his mouth. I know he tells me to play with him. But this time, all I do is throw the ball. He picks it up and brings it back to my hand. After a couple of throwing; he will just let the ball rolls, sit in front of me, stare at me straight into my eyes, look at the area where I throw the ball and then look back at me - as if he was telling me, "Ok it is now your turn to pick up the ball." I will get up off my feet, pick the ball and go back to the porch where Zero is already lying down on his back. Zero's body language tells me to scratch his belly and neck. And to confirm this gesture, as I say the command "scratch", he eventually bring his two feet together and act out a scratching motion. This moment, my hairy good friend created another good funny day with a well designed bonding.
Sometimes playing with him gets out of hand. Remember the futon that I was telling you; he grabbed it off from the sofa, dragged it out all over the backyard and ripped it like a devastating hurricane. ( you can see the mess below). Did I get mad? Nope! He is still a baby and I know he just wants to play. After all he is forgiven since he always stays all day in the backyard without any playmates. However, one afternoon, my new sofa just arrived from the dealer. It was a three section cushion with five throw pillows. And this day was an exceptional time for Zero. I let him into the living room proudly showing him how elegant and comfy the sofa is. I even let him jump into it and let him feel its soft texture. Although it was so abrupt I can see from his eyes that he was happy since I gave him the chance to lie down on the couch. Btw, Zero is restricted to go to any rooms inside the house except the kitchen which is adjacent to both living rooms and perpendicular to the garage. After that quick moment, as I am taking him to the kitchen, the doorbell rings. My neighbor John came by excitedly telling me how he got the ranch in Texas. The conversation was so lengthy that I have forgotten Zero for a moment. When John left the house, I went back to the kitchen and Zero was lying down in his angelic position. I know from that body language that this means he did something wrong. And my hunch was correct, all the throw pillows were on the floor, two of them were out of its covers and stuffed cottons were all over the place. Did I get mad?
I was so furious. I scolded him like a teenager. I even hit his behind in a playful way with his leash. I took his 30 feet long chain and tied him under the tree. This chain is a tool that I associate as a disciplinary measure for his wrongdoings. I imply through this chain that he is grounded. I went back to the room and cleaned up the mess. Through the sliding glass door, I can see Zero in his angelic position with both front feet curved in under his breast. I know at that time, he was really sorry. After a few minutes, I went out of the backyard and unleashed him without me saying any word or touching his back. With his head and tail down, he walked behind me towards the deck. In the back of my mind, I was wishing that my girlfriend will have the same composure as Zero has when we have an argument. As I was seating on the step of the deck, Zero with his head down and tail wagging downward approached me like he was asking for forgiveness. I pushed him away several times yet he insisted to be next to me. When our eyes met, I felt this burning sensation of joy, sincerity and friendship deep inside my heart. This visual talk sparked me to grab him under my arms, hug him so tight and kiss him affectionately. From his gesture, I learned a very memorable lesson in life. Zero knows he made a mistake. In spite to the fact that he was scolded, he was spanked and he was chained; Zero with his head looking down to the ground and his wagging tail down, slowly approached me without any words, without any confrontations, without any feelings of heartaches - surrendering his totality by means of body language alone while saying - "I'm sorry, can you just give me a hug - please."
Zero is progressing in his vocabulary. He knows a lot of common commands now such as:
1. SIT for sitting down,
2. DOWN for lying down,
3. ASK for asking food,
4. PLATE for getting his food tray,
5. PLAY for playing ball,
6. BALL for fetching the ball,
7. BANG for playing dead,
8. SCRATCH for rubbing his tummy,
9. WAIT for stopping,
10. GO for do it,
11. GOOD BOY for behaving obediently,
12. NO for do not do that,
13. RUN for jogging with me,
14. GET for fetching things,
15. DROP for letting go things in his mouth,
14. PICK for selecting which of my palm has food,
15. FIVE for shaking or high five shake,
16. FOOD - he says this word when he is hungry.
On the other hand, I learned some of his vocabulary.
1. When he gets his plate, he tells me that he needs food.
2. When he gets his ball, he tells me that he wants to play.
3. When he drops the ball in front of me, he tells me kick it.
4. When he rubs the floor, he tells us that he wants to be tickled.
5. When he stays beside the door, he tells me he wants to go outside.
6. When he stays sitting outside the door, he tells me "let me in".
7. When he lies full body down, he tells us "No”.
8. When he touches my leg with his paw, he tells me to give him food.
9. When he noses my hand, he tells me massage my neck.
10. When he bows his head and drops his tail, he tells me he is sorry.
11. When he waves his tail up, he tells me "Hello"
12. When I scratches the floor in a digging position, he jumps at me.
I am still working on the last behavior. I feel sometimes that if I do the scratching on the floor as he jointly scratches with me, I am challenging him for the Alpha male leadership.
This day is another interesting day. As I was brushing my teeth this morning, I saw Zero pooping in the backyard. To my suprised, when he was done, he started covering his mess using his nose as a scoop. And he was covering it by going around the poop, raking his nose and using his feet. I know this is unusual, because dogs usually used their hind legs. I can only speculate, that maybe he acquired this behavior from us. Because everytime he finished pooping, we usually cover his droppings with garden soil. And if he acquired this type of behavior from us, then again I assure you this is not genetic.
What is intelligence and why is not genetic?
You get your intelligence from how you react to your environment. You learn information from your teachers, from your parents, from books, from your experiences and even by discovery. Do you know, that during your birth, you do not have any intelligence (in human perspective) at all -.
to be continued........
“The theory of everything: find food to live and carry life to enjoy" ~ Joey Lawsin
How is this so? Let us say you were born today at this very moment. And all of a sudden right away , they put you to a room where you will be alone, by your self, without any communication or whatsoever from the outside world from now on. And you will live there for the rest of your life. They will not allow you to see anyone or anything except your food. (they turn off the lights when they give you your food.)
So the only information that your mind has from birth to maturity will be you and food. Nothing more. If you started to discover yourself and your surroundings, it is not possible. You do not have information. You do not know anything. You do not know what is the function of your nose, your ears and whatever you have in your body and in your room! So your brain, where intelligence resides partially, becomes useless.
So how does intelligence evolve?
A kitten that is drowning, quickly gets out of the water because of the sudden rush of pain as it engulfs a large amount of water through its mouth and nose. It is the immediate pain of suffocation that pushes the cat to paddle out of water and not bluntly because of the misconception of saving its dear life as people believe. Kittens do not have even the slightest idea about the meaning of life or in this matter even death just like all babies do. Getting out the water is a lifetime instruction that was learned and will never be forgotten by the kitten. Saving his own life was not engraved in his genes. It was not genetically inherited. It was spontaneously experienced. It becomes knowledge. If this frightening incident will happen the second time, the cat will instinctively be instructed by the call of necessity to immediately save itself out from drowning. Getting out of the water becomes second nature - an instinctive instruction and eventually becomes a part of your expanding intelligence.
This simple scenario happens to all natural things - living and non-living things. You program your own self. Genes program their own selves. Everything natural programs itself. You learn things only in two ways: from other man and from discovering.