August 06, 2005

Mental maps of dogs

Shelby digs for an imaginary pack rat. M. sometimes teaches "lifespan development" to undergraduates in psychology, and she tosses around terms such as "object permanence," "symbol theory," and "mental maps."

Here, I think, is a dog with a mental map: our ninja-collie, Shelby.

The wood was stacked in the morning. In the afternoon, Sheby was tearing into the woodpile looking for pack rats.

Why? Because last winter a pack rat had nested in another woodpile built in about the same spot. Here is a woodpile; therefore, it probably holds a pack rat. That is reasoning of a sort.

Pondering canine cognitive development at least occupies my mind while I am re-stacking the logs that she knocked down.

"Ninja-collie"? We call her that because she can float up the creaky flight of wooden steps to the front porch without making a sound.

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