Joe Pivetti's Poetry, Haiku and Poesy: Prose 2
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Heavens to Betsy




The National Geographic ran an article on Betsy, a long haired border collie with a 350 word vocabulary.  Later, New Scientist reported that another border collie, named Chaser, knew the names of 1022 items.  Chaser could also group many items by function and shape.

An African gray parrot named Alex learned the names of 50 different things and could tell the difference between 7 colors and 5 shapes.  He had a vocabulary of about 150 words and could count.  Alex's last words, spoken to his owner and teacher, were "You be good. See you tomorrow. I love you."  Another African Grey Parrot named N'kisi has a growing vocabulary of 950 words and the ability to use them in context, frequently in complete sentences.  In a story told by Jane Goodall, after seeing a photo of the acclaimed primatologist, N'kisi had the opportunity to meet her in person, whereupon he looked at her and asked, "Got a chimp?"

Lucy Temerlin had a preference for gin, and would happily put on tea when her tutor came to visit.  This would be perfectly normal except for the fact that Lucy was a chimp.  Brought up like a human, Temerlin and his wife taught Lucy to eat with silverware, sit at the dinner table, and even dress herself.  Lucy learned more than 140 words in sign language, which she used regularly, and in a way that showed that she understood what she was signing.  Koko, a female western lowland gorilla, is able to understand more than 1,000 signs in "Gorilla Sign Language" (GSL).  Koko also understands approximately 2,000 words of spoken English.  Koko is one of the few non-humans known to keep a pet (she's a cat ape).

Parrots might talk and apes might gesture, while a dog can only bark, yip, woof, warble, whine, howl, growl, snarl, sniff, pant, sneeze, wiggle, wag, droop, perk, circle, point, bend, jump, hop, crawl, bow, pull, nip, hit, bump, scratch, kick, dig, hike and dance in just so many ways; apes and parrots are smart but it is evident that an animal order of intelligence is subjective: so let's be polite to our close canine friends and give them the benefit of the doubt.



Copyright 2019 by Joe Pivetti