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Life Arts

Who Says that Animals Aren't Intelligent?

By       Message Suzana Megles     Permalink
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My sister and I both enjoy Guideposts, and then for Christmas she decided that I
might also enjoy their "sister" publication- Angels on Earth.  I hoped it wouldn't
be filled with gushy and saccharine stories.  In years past, I had gotten so many
unwanted E-mail "glurges" - a term coined by Snopes which refer to the often
overly sweet and exaggerated e-mails we have all probably received at one time
or another, that I didn't think I would enjoy a bi-monthly diet of them.

But of course, I gratefully acknowledged and thanked her for this Christmas gift
subscription.  And as it turned out, I have surprisingly come to thoroughly enjoy
them.  They have convinced me that not only are there heavenly angels, but some
come to us in the guise of humans and, even more often then not, from the animal
world.

The story of "Little Buddy" in the Jan./Feb. 2011 issue which I really enjoyed
made me realize that dogs are more than just man's best friend - they are often angels
in disguise with sometimes amazing abilities to think things through.   

I remember being abhorred at reading about the philosophers and scientists of the
Middle Ages.  One of them -Descartes who is considered the father of animal research,
looked upon animals as unfeeling automatons who could be used in any way man
desired to further the advances of science and medicine.  Whether it was he or
another took a dog and nailed him to a board, and then proceeded to cut open his
chest in the presence of like-minded supposedly "educated" people.  He claimed
that the cries of this pitiful dog were no more than automatic reflexes and that he
suffered no pain. 
  
I cringe when I think of this period which produced so many people of this ilk and,
sad to say, they imbued all facets of living during this time- including the people who
wrote on religious topics.  Well Gilligan, a Golden Retriever and the hero of this
story of a boy and his dog lost on a mountain- written by Debbie McNally, belie all
their faulty and asinine assumptions re the animal world and about those of the
nature of dogs in particular.

I don't know who was more fortunate - Michael, a young child  to have such a
beautiful and devoted friend in Gilligan, or Gilligan to have such a loving human
companion as Michael. From the very beginning the two were inseparable.  They
played together for hours in the yard, and when Michael started kindergarten,
Gilligan would hop in the van to ride with him to school. 

One day in winter when Karen came to pick up Michael, he had been so excited
about playing Polar Express at school that day and told his mom that they
had gone to the North Pole!  This excitement would spill over into what would
happen to him and Gilligan on the following snowy Saturday when they began the
day playing and frolicking in their snowy backyard.  For just a few minutes Karen
had lost sight of  the two from her kitchen window.  She had just watched
Michael tossing snowballs at Gilligan. Now she saw neither of them in the yard.

While Karen had been loading the washing machine, Michael had looked up at the
looming mountain near them and excitedly told Gilligan - let's go see Santa.  He's
on top of the mountain!  Even though he didn't have a Polar Express, he felt sure he
and Gilligan could make it on foot.

The day was getting dimmer and dimmer, but Michael and Gilligan had made it up
the mountain.  But to his dismay - no Santa!  Though disappointed, he thought that
maybe Santa was on the next peak and began bravely trudging on until his feet began
to feel like lead.  "Well," Gilligan he said to his faithful companion -"Maybe we
should try to see him another day." 

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They turned back and when they got to the bottom of the mountain, Michael was
crestfallen and dismayed that they hadn't landed up in their backyard as he thought
they would.  Now cold and hungry, Michael realized he was lost and began to wail.
Gilligan sensing his pain, nestled close to him for warmth and began to lick his face.

Of course, Karen was frantic and had called Search and Rescue and then waited and
waited. She hoped and prayed that both would be found unhurt.  In the meantime, Burt,
a truck driver was driving on Route 44. just past Redstone where Michael's family
lived.  He was behind schedule delivering a shipment of snowmobiles when he spotted
something just ahead on the road.  "Probably a deer," he thought and whispered
"Poor thing."

As he turned the wheel to go around it, he noticed as he got closer that that was
no deer!  He stopped his truck and saw that it was a dog right in the road.  Maybe he
was hit by a car, and maybe it wasn't too late to save his life. 

But as he approached the prone form, the dog came to "life."  But Gilligan knew
what his mission was and would not let Burt get a hold of him.  Instead he jumped up
and down around him.  When Burt tried to get near again, the "strange" dog ran to
the side of the road and barked and barked.  He then realized that the dog seemed to
want him to follow, and so he followed him to the edge of the road.  He peered over
the snow bank and saw a little boy in a red snowsuit curled up in a ball shivering. 

If you aren't bawling by this time, you may be after reading about the phone call
Karen got.  I think the author's words says it better than I can:

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"My name's Burt," the man said.  "Just found a young boy and his friend on Route 44. 
The boy's name is Michael and his buddy is Gilligan."

Karen's knees nearly buckled in relief.  And she didn't feel much steadier as Burt explained
just how he'd found Michael on that snowy night.  If it hadn't been for Gilligan lying
in wait in the road, Burt never would have stopped his truck."

Amazing the intelligence of Gilligan - playing dead no less to save his friend.  I would
love to tell this story to the idiots of the Middle Ages who said that dogs were mere
automatons.  

 

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I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
 

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