K-9 Superheroes with Super Powers


Canines are known for their strong intuitive powers and sharp intelligence. Their ability to ‘smell’ and ‘hear’ in extraordinary ways gives them superpower to perform several phenomenal activities.
Kritika Manchanda
Ipsita Sarkar
Dogs are known for their strong instinctive intelligence. In this article, we shall be unveiling the various aspects of dog intelligence. How many times have you seen your dog waiting at the door, even before the doorbell has been rung, only to find out that a dear one has arrived? Again, it may not be surprising if your dog has ever warned you of an impending natural calamity or a health problem by becoming restless or barking more than usual or pawing or licking at the affected area! So, what’s the answer to our canine friends’ secret powers? Is it hidden in their SUPER POWERS? But before that I want you to keep some treats ready for your pooch, because after reading this article you would certainly want to reward them for their powers.
Superheroes have ‘NATURAL ABILITIES’
Dog intelligence varies from breed to breed. Herding dogs are trained to manage livestock herds, retrievers are good at fetching, guard dogs watch over things, etc. Each dog has his own natural ability that is special in his own way! Bloodhounds are said to be known as furry detectives as they can follow a specific ‘odour’ for a distance of more than 130 miles, despite all other odours around the surroundings. The term ‘instinctive intelligence’ is referred to the inborn attribute of a bog. Herding breeds are bred to herd animals. Similarly, every dog breed has different instinctive intelligence – Guard Dogs are experts in watching over things, Retrievers are born fetchers, Pointers sniff out birds and could point out where their prey hides, etc. Border Collies are widely considered to be the most intelligent among all breeds.
Superheroes are ‘INTELLIGENT’
Emile van der Zee from School of Psychology, Brayford Campus, University of Lincoln (England) unfolds a series of experiments investigated whether the dog associates different things with a name for an object compared to humans. According to Emile, several experiments on word learning in dogs had been done already. For example, a Border Collie called Rico retrieved about 200 objects upon hearing their names, and just like children, Rico only needed to hear a new word once to associate it with an object. Another good example of word learning in dogs was Chaser, also a Border Collie, knew well over 1,000 words, and not only words for objects, but also words for object categories, such as ‘toy’. These studies gave the impression that word learning in dogs and humans is qualitatively similar.
“We decided to take the shape bias as a means for establishing word learning quality of dogs and we therefore set out to look for evidence of the shape bias in word learning in the dog,” shares Emile. “We worked with a Border Collie called Gable who already knew the names of over 40 different objects. Gable appeared to ignore the shape but focused on the size of the object. However, when Gable knew a word for a longer period of time, he tended to associate the word with object texture. Like humans feel the texture of an object by holding it, dogs do it by holding it in their mouth. Whereas object shape is important for humans, bite size and feel of texture are important for a dog when picking with their mouth,” explains Emile.
Superheroes and SCENT
A human nose has about six million sensory receptor sites, whereas a dog’s nose has anywhere between 200–300 million sensory receptor sites. Now, imagine how powerful that tiny little black nose is! Be it smelling diseases like cancer and tuberculosis or knowing whether the person is scared, dogs can do it all. In fact, dogs can smell fear and various other emotions that give out distinct odours. When we fear something, we are under stress and sweat. Dogs can smell this and that’s how they can find out whether we are scared or nervous.
And that’s how your pooch identifies you. The answer lies in their magical nose. Your pet smells you out and distinguishes you from the herd. We all know that our skin is covered with sweat and sebaceous glands. It is through the oil secretions of these glands that we get our distinctive smell. As we move around, we leave a trail. And the air is left perfumed with our sweat and its characteristic smell. For canines, it is rather easy to distinguish this odour and identify us. So, whenever you pet that adorable neighbourhood dog… your detective pooch smells it all.
Superheroes and SOUND
I always wonder that how do dogs identify our footsteps, the horn of the car and even the whistle of someone special? The hearing power of canines is way ahead than that of humans. Our auditory range is between
20 hertz and 20 kilo hertz. While for dogs the upper limit is 45 kilo hertz. For us these sounds are ultra-sonic because they are not in our auditory range, but our canine companions can hear them loud and clear. Their ability to move each ear independently helps them track sounds coming from a greater distance as well.
Superheroes and ENVIRONMENT
It’s a well known fact that dogs, like most other animals, can sense a tsunami, earthquake, thunderstorm, etc before it strikes. For instance, in Asian countries like Japan, Indonesia, etc which have witnessed tsunamis and earthquakes in the recent past, animals behaved in peculiar ways. About the tsunami that had struck Sri Lanka in 2005, National Geographic had reported, “Elephants screamed and ran for higher ground, dogs refused to go outdoors, flamingos abandoned their low-lying breeding areas, and zoo animals rushed into their shelters and could not be enticed to come back out.” So, what makes animals more receptive to weather forecasts by nature herself? Renowned Austin (Texas) based pet psychologist, Marti Miller says, “I believe that animals are more in tuned with their environment.”
Superheroes and HEALTH
Service dogs are trained to alert people to specific health issues which arise. This way, they ensure that the person they are assisting takes the appropriate medicine or measure like being in a safe place. They make the person independent and most of all give emotional support too.
Miller adds, “Dogs have a very keen sense of smell and when there is cancer or a seizure or a heart attack, the body chemistry changes and the dog is able to pick up on the smallest change in smell. A client of mine has a dog who would lie down on top of her chest and later she found out that she had breast cancer.”
And it’s not just with the physical health, dogs have that special connection with the emotional health of humans as well! Have you ever seen your pet pooch cosy up to you and snuggle into your arms, particularly, when you are feeling low and moist eyed? Or jumping along with you in joy, wagging away his tail to glory when you are in a jovial mood? The dog understands the emotions.
Superheroes … MULTI-TALENTED
Dogs according to breeds have some individually special talents and are specifically trained for a particular activity. Because of their talents they have varied skills and help people in health issues, search and rescue missions – sniffing out drugs, explosives, etc. There are certain dogs in families, who will pick it up without training, but that’s because of the continuing bond and the companionship between the humans and the animals.
Miller also asserts, “Not all dogs will detect cancer or illnesses, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be trained to do so either. Some dogs just have different gifts and talents just like people…I don’t know if wild dogs would be able to detect illnesses, but they do detect if an environmental disaster is going to happen.”
Superheroes…TRULY HUMBLE
It is amazing to know that how our furry buddies have these immensely strong powers yet they are so humble and loving. A lesson all humans should learn and abide by. And since we are talking about power, I am reminded of my favourite quote – ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ Although the powers are theirs, but the responsibility is ours! That’s why we always encourage responsible pet parenting for our SUPERHEROES with SUPER POWERS!