The remarkable performances of the well-known trained Bozzie, have of late attracted widespread attention. Not only has she puzzled the acute observation of Chicago's keen eyed newspaper men and justices of the peace, but she has been exploited as a mind reader, and preached about as being a model for poor, unenlightened mortals to emulate. The Press Club of Chicago has pondered over her performances, and has finally come to the conclusion that she is an unsolved enigma.
To explain how an animal of intelligence can be trained to perform seemingly impossible feats it is necessary only to refer to the experience of gentlemen skilled in the training of animals, and from them it is learned that it is simply a work of time and patience to teach a clever dog or horse to do as its master wishes.
Perhaps the most remarkable example of patient training on record is the performance of the renowned black French poodle "Black Robin," introduced some years ago in Europe by Mr. Zborzill. His system while not complicated is of interest to all lovers of the brute creation, and a careful study of his methods will do much to disperse the superstitious impressions created purposely by many modern trainers.
The mnemonic or memory system of training dogs or animals is one of the finest, most delicate and satisfactory methods. It consists solely in using certain "cue" words and imperceptible motions of the body, and by their use the memory of a dog can be developed and cultivated to a much higher degree than one which has been trained by the movements of the eye. For instance, the forming of words, by means of an alphabet, different table tricks, the solving of mathematical problems, the playing of a game of cards or dominoes, the location or selection of different objects with eyes blindfolded, and many other effects can be performed with such precision that one is actually astounded at the possibility of a dog's producing or performing such seemingly impossible feats.
The supposition that a dog can be a mind reader or a mathematician no person of good sense will consider for a moment, still less would one believe that a dog is able to learn cards, letters, numbers or words, any more than one would be able to draw the moon down to the earth. And yet it seems that the great mass of people will never learn that the most marvelous phenomenon has always a purely natural cause. Even here, in enlightened Chicago, there are numerous believers in superstitious practices.
Every intelligent person will admit that a certain amount of sense exists in all animals in a greater or less degree.
It is decidedly false to ascribe all the actions of an animal to instinct alone, for if the word instinct means natural inclination, then arises the important question, which among all the creatures of the earth is the greatest animal? I cannot stop to consider this question deeply, but am of the opinion that any animal who is in thorough understanding with his master, whether it be by cue words, movements of the body or of the eye, must certainly possess sense. That sense and memory are related goes without saying, because when a man has lost sense his memory is gone, and just the reverse is true; when his memory is gone he has no sense. A boy who has no memory is stupid and can neither learn to write, nor figure.
That dogs can remember many words is known to every dog fancier, and is proved by the simplest training. For instance, when we say to a dog "Stand up," '"Sit down," "Carry my paper," "Shake hands," and he obeys each command, it shows that he certainly must have memory. For this reason the modern system of training or teaching a dog as elucidated in this article is to be preferred to the method known as "eye training," in which the dog often receives severe punishment, although this memory system requires much time and patience.
The old expression, "I can read it in your eyes," could well, be used by the dogs, because it has often happened that clever dogs have seen in the eyes of their master just what he desired them to do.
More than fifty years ago a clever Frenchman, of a speculative turn of mind, discovered and cultivated this quality in his dog to such a degree that with a glance at his eyes the dog would pick up certain letters or numbers, thus forming words and solving different examples. As this Frenchman understood German thoroughly he still more astonished his audiences by the facility with which his dog picked up or spelled out words in either French or German as desired. In later years a number of other performers traveled about with trained dogs educated by this system, which they had discovered.
In order to bring a dog by eye training up to the point where he will find or pick up any desired letter or number from an alphabet, or a series of numbers, it is necessary that he first be taught how to retrieve (i. e., fetch and carry) well. When he has learned this simple feat, and all clever dogs learn it quickly, the dog should be placed on a table and a row of cards laid in front of him. The cards should be of heavy cardboard and either letters or numbers are painted or pasted on them. One end of each card must be turned up a little in order that the dog can pick it up easily with his teeth.
In the beginning use only six or eight cards. Accustom the dog to sitting quietly on the table, holding his head well up and keeping his eyes fixed on those of his trainer, for whom this is the most difficult and most important proposition, because innumerable times must the dog's head be lifted up and he must be punished at once if he moves his head or takes his eyes away from his trainer. When the dog succeeds in keeping still, with his eyes continually on those of his trainer, the latter casts a glance or look at any desired card without letting the eyelids fall deeply and stares with immovable eyes at the selected card, while he speaks sharply, "Find it, find it." Inasmuch as the dog in this respect has a sharper eye than, the man, he sees at once on which article the pupil or rays of the eye of his master are concentrated, and he picks up the desired card. When the dog has learned the glance or look to be the sign to pick up a card, the entire training of the dog is nearly accomplished. All that is now necessary is to gradually add more cards, with letters or numbers, until words can be formed or examples solved.
With this method the forming of words is very slow, because each time a card is picked up by the dog he must again look into his master's eyes for a short time to get the location of the next card.
Where the letters or numbers on cards are not used the dog is taught to bark a number, in which case the dog watches his trainer's or master's face closely and simply keeps on barking till the eyes or their movement, tell him to stop. The chief drawback to the above system is that any close observer will at once guess by what means and in what manner the dog has been trained. On the other hand, with a dog trained in the mnemonic or memory system, in which the trainer can operate with eyes blindfolded, no person can guess or fully discover the fine rapport existing between master and pupil.
Was this article helpful?