I am periodically confronted by comments on how smart a dog, cat or other creature is … most of which I do not read, because the majority of them are little more than romantic notions supported with irrational and inconclusive evidence.
What does “smart” mean? The question cannot be answered without specifying precise scientific guidelines, all of which must be measurable and rational. Without the ability to measure results, comparisons become little more than speculation.
Example: There are individuals with a very high level of education, but who have no common sense whatsoever. There are also individuals who failed to complete High School/Secondary School, and yet developed later into successful business owners.
An irrational component voids the whole exercise.
Example: Comparing the “smarts” of a dog against a cat, makes no more sense than comparing a human with an elephant.
The best we can do in these circumstances is to identify common capabilities and limit comparisons accordingly. Given that we have the huge dexterity advantage over dogs and cats (our opposing thumbs), then “smarts” cannot include handling dexterity.
Even comparing dogs is severely limiting. It is not easy to come up with parameters that allow constructive comparisons between dogs that have been bred for specific purposes. A “service dog” may well be viewed as very smart, but would they retrieve a designated object, or herd animals on request? Should a Great Dane, who is capable of supporting a person with balance issues, be considered any more or less than a small dog who can pickup a ringing phone and take it to its immobile owner, or open the refrigerator door and take out a designated item?
The variables are many, such that to do a meaningful comparison becomes very precise and scientific however, this Post is supposed to be about Ray so … how smart is he?
Based on all the above, I clearly do not have parameters for comparison which would support the notion of “smart” however, I can make some selective comparisons against humans!
1. Humans recognize friendship, but it so often deteriorates as a result of other influences. Ray’s friendship to us has been unwavering for the 5-1/2 years since he befriended us.
2. While humans can adapt to a positive outlook on life in general, evidence would suggest our default is negative. Ray is totally positive regardless of circumstances. He will believe that treats are a possibility in the most unlikely of places!
3. He is living in a culture which allows him to relieve himself pretty much wherever he chooses. Need I say any more on that topic?
4. Humans have a tendency to want to look “good”, and the fashion industry loves you all for it. Ray does not care what another dog looks like as long as it is amiable.
5. We have created a society where expectations include working for most of the time; where our lives need to be structured; where we are constantly made aware of less fortunate people around the world; where the average lifestyle is not conducive to a long and trouble-free life, and where we are constantly confronted with our own shortcomings. Ray, in total contrast, has simply adapted to our culture, without taking any responsibility for it, and without having any obligations to conform to it. He is taking advantage of all the benefits, without any commitments!
If we compare Ray with ourselves, and use parameters of lifestyling, it would seem that Ray is smarter than us. He reaps all the benefits of our standard of living, while we do all the work to maintain that standard of living. Regardless of what science may come up with, it seems pretty clear to me!