Willow the Dog

We all know that a dog is a man's best friend, dogs have for thousands of years been domesticated and kept by mankind. And we all know that compared to many other mammals, they have an astonishingly brilliant intellect, but that isn't to say that they aren't easily outmatched by other animals, such as pigs forexample. However, four years ago, in 2009, a very interesting dog named Willow was featured on shows like The Today Show and The Tyra Banks Show.

Willow is no ordinary dog, as a matter of fact she is quite phenomenal, Willow is a dog who is capable of reading, a literate dog, so to speak. Willow is capable of comprehending the cards she is shown by her owner, Lyssa Howells. It's actually quite simple, if the card says ''wave'' Willow will, as illustrated on the picture above, wave, at least she'll attempt to wave to the best extent a dog could be expected to, which is somewhat admirable.

This whole thing supposedly started out as a bet, a friend of Lyssa Howells offered her a trip to Mexico if she could teach Willow to read. After no more than six weeks of training Willow, Howells proved that the dog could follow commands written on sheets of paper without the presence of any voice or bodylanguage signals. If you want to see Willow in action, I'd encourage you to watch the short video below this paragraph.

The fact that Willow can read these signs suggests that this dog possesses a superior intellect, right? Although it is only logical to assume so, apparenly no, not entirely anyway. As it turns out, teaching a dog how to read is actually relatively simple in comparison to what you might have in mind. As a matter of fact some experts have even stated that what Willow does when she ''reads'' the cards isn't technically considered reading, Peter Borchelt, animal behaviourist has made the following statement: "This is not reading. This dog is discriminating between the shapes of letters." However, one might argue thatt being able to tell the difference between letters and being able to comprehend the meaning of different combinations is all that is required to be considered literate. What is your opinion on the matter? Is Willow the reading dog literate or is not comparable to the way a human would read?