The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


The People News
Special Report






Smart Creatures
Great and Small

by Alexandra Edwards

Humans, even at an early age, develop a love for animals and establish a strong bond with them.

Small babies often have an immediate fascination for household pets, especially dogs. Yet, somehow, even the most boisterous furry friend seems to sense that it need be gentle and protective toward an infant.

Though humans are believed to be more intelligent than animals and creatures around us, sometimes they appear to understand us, more than we do them.

Those that have had several household pets during their lifetime, whether they were dogs, cats, birds or fish, will have noticed how some seem to have a more knowing character than others, making it easier for humans to interact with them.

Alexandra Edwards

Having had the pleasure of owning 12 wonderful adopted dogs in my life time, all of them mixed breeds, though all had special characteristics, at least two of them had exceptional character traits that made them stand out from the rest. Both seemed completely capable of understanding their owners' moods, seeming to know when we were sad, mad, sick or in any danger.

One dog used to get so visibly upset when seeing any member of the family carry a suitcase or overnight bag to the car, that we had to try to do it discretely. Just by looking into their eyes, you could see they understood what we humans are all about, yet we could never decipher their different types of barks or why they sometimes howled in the middle of the night, how they manage to pee so many times in a short time, or why they sniff the rears of other dogs when they meet.

Another smart, beloved family pet was a bright blue parakeet named George. Perched on a swing in his long wire cage, he learned a wide vocabulary of words and rhymes from the family. As soon as he heard the key in the front door, he would chirp loudly, and flit excitedly around his cage. When feeling a little blue, I would sit on the floor beside his cage and he would climb down to see me saying "give us a kiss" then he'd make the kissing sound. Each night as we would turn out the lights, he would bid us a clear "good night." George knew we cared for him and in return he tried his hardest to communicate with us.

Yet, we did not understand the meaning of all his varied bird chirps, why sometimes he sat at the bottom of his cage rather than on his perch, or why some days he would flutter his wings flying up and down the cage, yet if we opened the cage door, he did not seem to want to fly out.

Not just household pets, but creatures of many different types can touch a person's life by trying to interact with a human. Just a few weeks ago, I felt very uncomfortable about what I thought was a wasp noisily buzzing around me. My husband tried to assure me that it was not a yellow jacket, merely a hover fly. To convince me that it would not sting he held his hand out to the flying insect saying "come on buddy," and to our amazement, the insect flew right into the palm of his hand looking him straight in the face as if to say "I'm just a friendly bug."

Some wild birds in Florida prove that even with a bird brain they can be just as smart as a dog. Small blue birds called Scrub Jays love people and peanuts. So much so that if you stand with a peanut on the palm of your hand, they will swoop down, perch on your head, shoulder or go straight to your hand and grab the peanut.

Should you have a few peanuts in your hand they will take their time to choose the best one. Once they get to know you, they will return and squawk for you to get the peanuts. Strange thing is, many times they don't necessarily want to eat the peanut, but instead just hide it in the ground. Seems that this mischievous little bird's primary objective is to interact with people rather than just grab food.

Another example of a smart pea brain was a beautiful young peacock that turned up on my front porch one day. After finding out what peacocks ate, I fed him each day and to my delight he hung around for about a week, watching and following me right to the patio door of the house. Wanting to instantly photograph this wonderful creature, I'd pick up my iPad and aim the camera toward him.

Upon seeing the iPad, he would immediately put on the most spectacular show, lifting his feather train into a fan, posing and showing all his new brightly colored feathers. Almost as if he knew he wanted to be photographed.

Living on a farm, hundreds of animals and creatures come and go without leaving much impact on our lives, yet those that try and interact and communicate with us can touch our hearts forever.

Maybe all God's creatures, great and small, are not quite as dumb as we think.

After all, not all humans are smart and some much smarter than others. Maybe the same can be said for non-humans.