Tool Use in Dogs or Cats?
On Tuesday I gave a lecture in my UW class about tool use and the cultural transmission of information in non-human animals. It’s one of my favorite lectures; it does my heart good to ponder so many interesting examples of our connections with other animals. The list of discoveries of animals using tools is ever growing; ever since Jane Goodall discovered chimps using modified twigs to catch termites, researchers have observed crows in Australia manufacturing hooked tools to pry insects out of bark, dolphins carefully placing sponges over their rostrums to protect their tissues while foraging, chimpanzees using two tools (hammer and anvil) to crack nuts… the list goes on and on. Here’s a truly great video of New Caledonian Crows figuring out how to combine a penchant for nuts and civilization (this is definitely worth the time!)
So… all this talk about animals using tools got me to thinking. Does anyone know of any credible examples of a dog or cat using tools? (Define tools as “objects external to the self that are used to accomplish a goal.”) I can think of a video I saw of a dog pulling a dog house several feet so that s/he could reach some food, but not much else. Any one else? Any examples of dogs or cats using tools?
Meanwhile, it was a wonderful weekend. Temps in the 30′s and sunny besides. Saturday we went to an orchid show and soaked in the displays of almost obscenely colorful flowers, as thirsty for color as a desert floor for water.
The lambs got to gamble in the sun too; here’s white dude posing for me:
And here’s a close up of my lovely Lassie girl, so soft (and wondering what the heck I am doing w/ that rude, black ‘eye’ so close to her face!