Bob Groeneveld has been sharing his Odd Thoughts with Langley readers for the past four decades, give or take a few weeks.

Odd Thoughts: Big thoughts in small brains

Dogs have their own ways of thinking, and their own uses for those thoughts

By Bob Groeneveld

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A lot of people think dogs don’t think.

That’s based largely on the physical apple-sized space their brains take up – the dogs’ brains, that is.

Think of a golden retriever’s brain as the size of a – what else? – golden delicious apple, and a chihuahua’s as a crab apple… indeed, the comparison fits the size as well as the temperament.

But it isn’t size that matters, otherwise there would be a lot of people running around with heads like those weird dried-apple puppets. People all have roughly the same-sized brains, regardless of whether or not a coherent thought has ever been passed between their neurons.

Although even a big dog has a much smaller brain than that of the average human, dogs aren’t particular stupid. They may think differently from us, but there’s more than applesauce in their brain cases.

And sometimes, their thought processes are remarkably similar to ours.

Take the case of a black lab named Wasgo.

Wasgo also displayed his superior intellect when it came time to administer pills for what occasionally ailed him. He was a past master at hiding a pill under his tongue, in his cheeks, or in the folds of his copious lips, while feigning swallowing and pretending the pill was “all gone!”

He could hold a pill in his throat for what seemed like minutes, and then when you least expected it, he’d heave an abrupt cough… and swish! that pill would sail over my shoulder and past my ear.

I was reminded of those hilarious antics when I found not one, but two of Sam’s recently administered antibiotic pills tucked between the folds of his blanket.

I started by hiding his pills in bits of cheese. But he always has to have a “clean” piece first, because he’s on to that trick and always inspects the first treat carefully. And sometimes the second one… and sometimes the third…

Besides, all but the smallest pills will distort the natural cut of the cheese too much to get past his wary eye (the other one is mostly blind now).

It’s been suggested that tossing a dog a morsel with a pill inside will get past the inspection, as they quickly swallow in the excitement… but although Sam catches balls and toys of all sorts, but toss him a biscuit, and it will bounce off his disapproving skull.

You do not throw food around. That’s uncivilized.

Recently, I’ve been forced to resort to physically forcing the pills past his tonsils.

And I was absolutely certain that I had successfully slipped those two pills down his throat.

The experts say that you can be sure you’ve landed the pill properly when your dog licks out his/her tongue after swallowing. It’s like what they call a “tell” in poker.

I used to be pretty good at that game in my younger days… but I don’t think I’d be eager to take a seat at a table with Sam dealing.

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