Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/268

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256
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

estimate their number, nor can the hunter. The shepherd's dog watches his flock of sheep, and goes after the individual members that wander from it. But if one or two of them have been sold or carried off by a wolf during his absence, he does not miss them.

It is wholly improbable that the so-called learned dogs, which are said to have been taught to count, have really been lifted to the abstract notion of numbers. They have simply been taught to associate certain signs or words of their master with particular graphic signs, the geometrical figure of which has been impressed upon their memory. In the same way that the horse associates the words "gee!" and "haw!" with his right and his left, and dogs associate the sound of the horn or trumpet with the chase, they may associate with figures which are shown to them the names as pronounced of those figures, but without comprehension of their numerical relations, and without distinguishing them in any other way than by the difference in their shape. They may be taught to arrange them when commanded in any particular order, without it being necessary to suppose that they have any idea of their arithmetical significance.

"When Sir John Lubbock speculated about teaching his dog to read, he played upon this faculty of associating vocal signs with certain forms or figures, and even with graphic signs, figures, or letters. The dog certainly had no comprehension of the ideographic value of the figures which were shown him drawn upon the pasteboard; but their shape, stamped in his memory, was associated with the sounds that were spoken to him when they were shown him, and with certain acts that he was to perform to obtain caresses and rewards from his master. He thus soon learned to pick out the cards which he had to bring to ask for drink or food or to go out in order to have his desire satisfied. The quickest way of teaching children to read is to show them at the same time the image of the object and the word that designates it, so that the two shall be associated in their minds, and they are tempted to speak in the same way. But to appreciate the abstract sense of the noun or the verb requires a degree of intelligence and faculties of comparison which none of our domestic animals has as yet attained.

It would, moreover, be very extraordinary to find in an animal so far removed in organization from man as the dog a qiiasiidentity of mental faculties, and an educability which is wanting in entire human races. It is enough to show that between the intellectual state of dogs and of Bushmen, Tasmanians, and Veddahs, who can count only two, and then say "many," the difference is as slight as possible, and the passage insensible.

It is, moreover, evident that horses and dogs know as well as