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"When a dog barks at the moon, then it is religion; but when he barks at strangers, it is patriotism!"
February 10, 2010 8:07 AM   Subscribe

Nobody told Donnie to arrange his toys in geometric patterns. Or to juxtapose them "socially". He just does it. Oh yeah, Donnie is a dog.
posted by orthogonality (89 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
(As my title suggests, the dog is doing something, but the human interpreting that behavior may or may not be applying an anthropomorphism.)
posted by orthogonality at 8:09 AM on February 10, 2010


My dog does that, too. It's hilarious.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:12 AM on February 10, 2010


You should contact the professor.

"Donnie can't be the only dog in the world who does this," Smuts said. "I'm hoping that people will see this show and say, 'Hey, that's like my dog, or I know a dog that does that,' and e-mail me. We need a larger sample to find out what's going on."

bsmuts@umich.edu
posted by stavrogin at 8:14 AM on February 10, 2010


awww he thinks he's people
posted by DU at 8:17 AM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Clearly pawtism. Don't vaccinate your hounds.
posted by I Foody at 8:18 AM on February 10, 2010 [41 favorites]


I'd like to see a version of this video made by non-idiots. Any 3 points will determine a triangle and they will all be of the same binary value 1/8th of the time. Selection bias gets you even farther.

Which isn't to say there's nothing going on, but these examples are boneheaded.
posted by DU at 8:22 AM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Well, this beats the shit out of the druggie lemurs, doesn't it?
posted by Caduceus at 8:23 AM on February 10, 2010


My dog has a deep respect for the laws of Thermodynamics, and displays this by spreading entropy wherever she goes. Especially by dumping her toys out of their bin and scattering dog food all over the house.
posted by COBRA! at 8:26 AM on February 10, 2010 [14 favorites]


Blatant dogism. My cats make elaborate geometric patterns and even three-dimensional sculptures in their litter box for me every day. They also cleverly hide them for me to discover later.
posted by yhbc at 8:26 AM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is pretty interesting, though I don't know what to make of it.

MetaFilter: This is pretty interesting, though I don't know what to make of it.
posted by everichon at 8:27 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, the geometric patterns make me wonder if it's really something to do with his image processing. Like, he can only see the toys if they are in squares or whatever. Or he has synesthesia and triangles make him taste cat.

The groupings would tend to argue against that, but then the groupings weren't very convincing even in these cherrypicked examples. The "all face down" group had one sideways and the "all monkeys" group had a hedgehog.
posted by DU at 8:28 AM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Our dog is always writing up proofs for P=NP, but it's a joke, really. It's more like reading Time Cube than real math.
posted by everichon at 8:29 AM on February 10, 2010 [31 favorites]


Well, this beats the shit out of the druggie lemurs, doesn't it?

I agree entirely. It's the same old story. Paul Gaugin, Miles Davis, Roman Polanski, and now Donnie the Dog — great artists whose legacy is sadly tainted by personal cruelty. "He sure made a great triangle," we'll all say someday, "but what about the time he drugged all those lemurs and beat the shit out of them? No, I won't even look at his triangles anymore. I can't support that."
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:29 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


My dog can be sitting there watching me as I rap my knuckles on the desk, and she will run and bark at the door. So, pretty much the other end of the bell curve.

I feed her anyway
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:31 AM on February 10, 2010 [40 favorites]


Donnie is obviously a witch's familiar.
Now, normally I'd say we should burn him at the stake, however...

He's a good boy!
Yes he is!
Who's a good boy?
Donnie's a good boy!
*pats Donnie's belly*
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:32 AM on February 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


I have thought about this for several minutes now, and I think I know what's going on. Donnie has a little problem with the nose candy.
posted by everichon at 8:33 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


My mom's dog used to do crazy sh*t like this. When you gave her a new toy, she would pull similar ones out of her toy box and put them next to each other like she was comparison shopping.

I miss her.
posted by lumpenprole at 8:36 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


My cats make elaborate geometric patterns and even three-dimensional sculptures in their litter box for me every day.

Clearly you have a Zen Cat.
posted by amyms at 8:38 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


One question that occurs to me is how he reacts if one of his toys is moved from where he put it. Are these ephemeral arrangements, or does he put a lot of care into where each object goes, adjusting and checking. If it's the first, then we're probably projecting, if it's the second, there may be something more to it. Maybe.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:39 AM on February 10, 2010


It seems like he was trained to do something like this before becoming a stray, then it morphed into something else with all the emotional trauma of being on his own.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:40 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pfft I can do that.
posted by Mister_A at 8:41 AM on February 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


That dog has a lot of toys.
posted by like_neon at 8:44 AM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


The other morning when the furnace was out, my dog woke up and solved ∂u/∂t = ∇2u in his head.

Then he pressed up against my chest and went back to sleep with his chin over my neck.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:47 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Our dogs arrange their toys in elaborate booby-traps to ensure I will always step on one in the middle of the night.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:48 AM on February 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


I watched that twice, and did not see an instance of the dog doing anything but throwing the toys around. Also, that dog has a million toys, odds are they will end up in some sort of pattern.

My husky is ocd about her toys as well. She will always line three up on the bench at the end of our bed. She also puts them in piles in the back yard, and can ALWAYS find the little hole she dug a month ago and buried a rawhide the size of a dollar...

I guess I'm not too impressed by this.
posted by HuronBob at 8:52 AM on February 10, 2010


also, that phd is from the U of M, just down the road, where they ruined a perfectly good historic stadium with an ugly addition of luxury boxes... just sayin'

/not a derail about how stupid the U is, really, it's not
posted by HuronBob at 8:54 AM on February 10, 2010


25 comments without an autism joke? I'm ashamed of you, Metafilter.
posted by clarknova at 8:54 AM on February 10, 2010


Were I grew up (up around Bass Lake Ca), our neighbor had nine chickens in a coup in front of their house.

One night the mountain lion came down and ate them all. This creature was able to pull all nine of the chickens through one of the quarter sized gaps in the chicken wire, one at a time of course. I went over the next day to harass the neighbor girl because that's what 12 year old boys do, when I noticed a 3x3 square grid composed of chicken feather piles. Inside each pile, there was a beak and two chicken feet.

I was confronted with a near perfect square of chicken feather piles and an empty chicken coup with one chicken sized stretched out hole in the chicken wire. I guess I could interpret it as cubism inspired performance art on the part of the lion, or I could assume that we are not the only creatures on the planet that find patterns useful.

Chicken.
posted by The Power Nap at 8:56 AM on February 10, 2010 [9 favorites]




Dr. Barbara Smuts, a renowned animal behaviorist from the University of Meecheegan..
posted by phaedon at 8:56 AM on February 10, 2010


This is where crop circles come from.
posted by scottatdrake at 8:56 AM on February 10, 2010


Donnie Barko. I wonder if he has any rabbit toys.
posted by emelenjr at 8:56 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Our cat likes to put his toys in our shoes. Can I have a grant to study this please.
posted by notmydesk at 9:01 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here's an interesting little article on Dr. Smuts.
posted by HuronBob at 9:08 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


That dog chasing his tail in the video is clearly trying to make crop circles. Quick, get him to a wheat field. He's trying to tell us something!
posted by podwarrior at 9:12 AM on February 10, 2010


bsmuts@umich.edu
Really...? BS Muts?

25 comments without an autism joke? I'm ashamed of you, Metafilter.
Don't blame me. I got side tracked. I started rearranging my sentences. Ordering them by increasing word count. It is surprisingly difficult to do well. Especially if you want them to make sense...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 9:15 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Donnie captioned:

"Ok, now check this out... I put this here, and you are supposed to say 'good dog' and give me a treat... See, I can tell that you aren't getting this, so let me try again... No? All right, now I'll put this one here and you reach in you pocket... Damn it, what are you not understanding about this? I put this toy here and you..."
posted by quin at 9:17 AM on February 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


25 comments without an autism joke? I'm ashamed of you, Metafilter.

Ahem.

Fifth post. We can all sleep easy tonight.
posted by unSane at 9:19 AM on February 10, 2010


Dr. Smuts was just featured on the most recent RadioLab podcast: The Shy Baboon. Today is oddly synchronous for me...
posted by ikahime at 9:27 AM on February 10, 2010


Recently a genetic predisposition to obsessive-compulsive behaviour has been identified in the breed.

Also, it occurs to me that Donnie might benefit from having fewer toys.
posted by longsleeves at 9:27 AM on February 10, 2010


My old dog used to do this but he was undoubtedly a genius. He could also open doorknobs, fence latches and pretty much anything designed to keep him contained: equally brilliant, far more frustrating. Now my old cat was also a genius, but the evil variety. He used to leave mouse parts in symmetrical compositions on the living room rug, all perfectly lined up within the borders of the rug design. He would neatly cut them up in halves and quarters, too, so as to make the whole thing more, well, sort of abattoir chic. And he did this before Damien Hirst! Let me tell you, there is really nothing on earth quite like coming downstairs in the morning to find Composition in Mouse Halves Number Three awaiting you.

The truly horrible thing was that he never used the tails in his work. And we never found them. Never. Ever. And knowing that there must be four or five mouse tails in the house yet not knowing where they might be lurking? Is bad. Bad.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:28 AM on February 10, 2010 [18 favorites]


the "all monkeys" group had a hedgehog.

Maybe they have reason to believe that he can't tell the difference between a monkey and a hedgehog. Donnie is just a dog, after all; it's unfair to expect him to grasp all the nuances of biological classification....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:33 AM on February 10, 2010


...besides which, ask two dozen so-called "intelligent" cs majors to implement a clustering algorithm and see if any of them gets any result better than one hedgehog in the monkey group.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:38 AM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love this FPP but all I can focus on right now is that in 2:08 in the youtube link, one of the monkey dolls in the background MOVES BY ITSELF. AND I just watched the scary movies mirrors link. *cries*
posted by spec80 at 9:40 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Our cat likes to put his toys in our shoes. Can I have a grant to study this please.

Ooh...one of my cats does that. She'll participate in your study. She also manages to dig through the basket of cat toys and locate her two favorites (red fish and white bunny) to place in shoes.
posted by ericb at 9:41 AM on February 10, 2010


Dog Genius is a thing?
posted by boo_radley at 9:45 AM on February 10, 2010


Brings to mind Rico, the border collie that "has a stunningly large vocabulary of about 200 words and can even do something scientists thought only humans could do: figure out by the process of elimination that a sound he has never heard before must be the name of a toy he has never seen before." Video.
posted by ericb at 9:48 AM on February 10, 2010


Clearly, the only way to find out for sure is to dissect this dog's brain now while he is still young and healthy.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:51 AM on February 10, 2010


My dog "buries" his bones in the pillows on my bed and the blankets on our chair/couch, and sometimes in the cushions of our furniture. I am sure there is some special pattern to this. I'd like a grant too.
posted by bearwife at 9:54 AM on February 10, 2010


To be fair - the dog does have EIGHTY FREAKING TOYS. Maybe he just likes having his toys organized.

Eighty toys would make either of my dogs (more) insane.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 9:54 AM on February 10, 2010


dig through the basket of cat toys

It's good to know we're not the only humans to have been trained to put all the cat toys into a basket for the cats' amusement.
posted by yhbc at 9:58 AM on February 10, 2010


My aunt had a cat that would line up bits of string (shoelaces, leashes, etc) in straight, parallel lines next to her food bowl. Move one and she'd snatch and carefully put it back into place. Weird cat.
posted by codswallop at 10:00 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dog Genius is a thing?

Yeah, it's going to be a remake of Real Genius only all the characters are played by dogs.

You might expect Jordan Cochran to be played by a sexy poodle or something? You'd be wrong. She'll actually be played by one of these.
posted by Caduceus at 10:04 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


See... this reminds me of that book which was out from a few years ago, where that researcher had "discovered" that playing different kinds of music to water as it was freezing caused it to take on very different crystal shapes... And he has, like, one photo of this horribly asymmetrical crystal and says "this was from heavy metal music" and another of this incredibly complex and symmetrical crystal and says "this was from bach"...

And all I could think while looking at the book was... how many photos were taken under each musical circumstance, and how many were dismissed and never shown because they didn't fit the thesis being forwarded?

Those "holding hands" photos are a great example of what I'm talking about. What about photos where the toys are 2" apart, or 6" apart? Where are they? We're only seeing the photos of what the researcher wants us to see, and everything else is being discarded as noise.

I would need to see MUCH more proof of concept than what I've seen here today.
posted by hippybear at 10:06 AM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


My cats make elaborate geometric patterns too! Thank god for super glue.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:07 AM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


The video of Rico is great, except where they equate Standard Poodles with looks instead of with brains. Please. Mine has a list of questions and he can tell you what he wants.

"Do you need water?" Impassive stare.
"Do you want dinner?" Impassive stare.
"Do you need to go out?" Increasingly frustrated impassive stare.
"Do you want a walk?" Ears perk up, gets leash.

He can also tell us when he wants a treat, wants to go to the groomer, wants to visit his doggy friends and when he wants to go to the park. We don't ask the question unless it's a real possibility. Once, I asked him if he wanted to go on a walk before I noticed it was terribly cold outside. He spent the rest of the day pointedly turning around when I entered the room. There is nothing sadder than being shunned by a dog.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:09 AM on February 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


My cats make elaborate geometric patterns too! Thank god for super glue.

Some parsing assistance, please. Do you mean that you use super glue to affix your cats in geometric patterns? Or that when the cats huff the glue the fumes cause them to become intoxicated and then they arrange their toys in the patterns? Or, are you the one sniffing the glue and after a few whiffs your cats turn into patterns via visual hallucinations? Or, was that just a praising of Diety with no relation to the preceding statement?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:12 AM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Don't blame me. I got side tracked. I started rearranging my sentences. Ordering them by increasing word count. It is surprisingly difficult to do well. Especially if you want them to make sense...

This reminds me of a friend of mine who has CDO. CDO is kind of like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order as they ought to be.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:15 AM on February 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


CDO is kind of like OCD

No, no. Compulsive Disorder Obsession affects only underclass psych majors.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:19 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Our cat likes to put his toys in our shoes.

One of our cats puts all of her little stuffed animal toys in the water dish. We can't figure out if she's being motherly and trying to give them a drink, or if she's being evil and trying to drown them.
posted by amyms at 10:20 AM on February 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Who took my frog
Who found my frog
Who made a frog triangle
posted by Phanx at 10:24 AM on February 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


Please. If a bird can do it, a dog can do it.
posted by fight or flight at 10:26 AM on February 10, 2010


No one else is flat out calling bullshit? Bullshit! With 80 toys that he apparently plays with all the time it'd be amazing if there were no geometric or vaguely categorical groupings.

Except they failed to show me any categorical groupings and only one vaguely convincing pattern (the straight lines. sorry, "circles"). The octopus hugging the bear? Please. The dog can anthropomorphize a green octopus and uh... caninomorphize a stuffed bear? He arranged the individual arms when tossing the two in the same general direction would produce exactly the same impression?

Listen. Dogs are smart. They know when they might get food, when you're about to leave and for how long, and how and what time to wake you up. They don't need overfunded grad students and pop science shows to muddy the waters.

Bull. Shit.
posted by cmoj at 10:44 AM on February 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


What impact is this going to have on our studies of my cat's brother, who carries around his stuffed monkey girlfriend and humps it on the bed, then curls up and falls asleep? That's what *I* wanna know.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:56 AM on February 10, 2010


Burhanistan, I'm pretty sure the superglue is used to put back together that which cat has rent asunder. (Typically by knocking off the kitchen counter, at least in my house.)
posted by ErikaB at 10:57 AM on February 10, 2010


Our little cat dropped her toy mouse in the toilet. Then, she fished it out again. God bless her.
posted by anazgnos at 10:58 AM on February 10, 2010


God, I love the inevitability of the fact that any discussion of 'genius' dogs on the internet is going to turn into a discussion of cute things our cats do.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:06 AM on February 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


MY dog does those kinds of things. I can tell you how it happens.

You see, my dog also has about eighty toys. It's not that odd that over an eleven year life span a dog that doesn't destroy her toys should collect a considerable number.

I carefully pile them all up in her bin, and when she takes a mind to, she roots through for whatever toy she wants. It is quite clearly a selection process - she has favorites, and I know the ones for which she doesn't really care.

She takes the toy she has selected, and either lies down to daintily nibble at it, or she throws it in the air and 'catches' it by pouncing, like a wolf does catching mice. Then when she is bored with that one, she goes and selects another one.

Now here is where the patterns come in. You see, she likes to play in specific parts of the house, in specific places in the rooms. I do not know why that is, but she picks spots in each house that are hers to play in. So she takes her toy to what she has decided is her play spot, and she does the same thing with the second toy that she does with the first. But mark! She doesn't want to play where that toy is, because it's lying there messing up her Feng Shui or something. So she TURNS and plays with the second toy.

She repeats this process with a third toy, and is then bored and goes to take a nap.

She is also perfectly able to communicate with me. Her Majesty enjoys being in the same room I am in, but she dislikes lying on the floor. So if I am in a room and her favorite bed is not in that room, she will pointedly stand and whine, looking at me, until I go and get her favorite bed. She can go on for hours with the stare-and-whine, but I can only hold out about fifteen minutes.

Give me my grant money and I will study this phenomenon in depth. But not the dog. The people who think that it means something human when a dog does something that displays some pattern of cogitation.
posted by winna at 11:36 AM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well it's obvious that this dog was a tough ill-mannered cop, run down in the line of duty...Only to be resurrected in dog form.

In the original post, and the Border Collie Video, they seem to go out of their way to NOT show the amazing thing the dog is supposed to be good at. Thus proving that dogs are, at best, smarter than your average TV segment producer.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:52 AM on February 10, 2010


Come on, people, isn't this pretty clearly food-caching behavior?

(As HuronBob was essentially saying.)

As such, I'd say it's probably a built-in program, and more likely to be found in breeds initially established in cold climates (because of its obvious greater utility in snow), and which have recent admixtures of wolf blood (like HuronBob's Husky).
posted by jamjam at 12:00 PM on February 10, 2010


That's nothing. My dog knows when it is exactly 15 minutes before the alarm clock is set to go off on any given morning. I know this because this is when he decides I need to get up to take him outside. Through clever observation he know that any time > 15 minutes and I have sufficient motivation to get back to sleep. Also, any time < 15 minutes and I'm apt to be sufficiently refreshed as to send a feeble, pre-coffee kick in his general direction. It's not even that he wants to go outside either. He just knows that when I get up I have to get ready for work so he gets a pre-warmed spot on the bed. Little bastard can't wait that additional fifteen minutes.

This is why I feel no guilt when I play Minnie Riperton's "Loving You" even though the song makes him howl every single time he hears it.
posted by Fezboy! at 12:13 PM on February 10, 2010


it's probably a built-in program

cf Stallman's toy_arr, which is very powerful but has the usual CLI tetchiness about it.
posted by everichon at 12:19 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, it is entirely possible to get these pictures by cherry-picking the few instances where the dog's randomly scattered stuff happens to line up in a nice pattern. It's also quite possible for the owner to have carefully laid out the toys themselves and then just told us that the dog did it. Less likely, from a psychological point of view, but still possible. Why are there people accusing this person of seeing patterns that don't exist but nobody accusing them of fakery? Because it's not really that implausible a claim. I'm perfectly willing to give this person the benefit of the doubt when they say their dog lays things out in geometric patterns. They probably saw it a lot before they thought to take any pictures. And once they saw a bunch of those big fat circles, they probably read too much into the occasional small piles, yes, but that doesn't change the fact that their dog is probably arranging stuff geometrically (for whatever reason). This is not a scientific paper (at least I hope not), nor is it a revolutionary claim about animal psychology, so I'm not going to hold them to a particularly high standard of evidence. Sure, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but I think it goes the other way too. Mundane claims don't really require very strong evidence (unless you're purporting to be doing science, in which case all bets are off).

(Anecdotally, my Bubbie's cat used to line up mouse skulls in the basement very carefully.)
posted by ErWenn at 12:47 PM on February 10, 2010


Oh no, this is the "holy baboon silence" lady! Her dog does geometry, baboons pray when looking in the water, and cats recite sonnets in code when they purr. The last one I made up, but it's about the same in terms of inference. She observes something, interprets the animals to act in a way consistent with how she feels at the moment, then goes on NPR, and makes me spit out my tea when I hear her religious baboon story in the morning.
posted by Shusha at 12:50 PM on February 10, 2010


Why are there people accusing this person of seeing patterns that don't exist but nobody accusing them of fakery?

I would assume they'd do a better job of faking it. As in actually arranging the toys in the way they're claimed to be arranged.

Why assume malice when stupidity suffices?
posted by cmoj at 1:16 PM on February 10, 2010


I don't know why this particular story is pissing me off, but I'm done after this:

The pictures they show don't even show what the captions/voiceovers say! 3 frogs and a newspaper is not a pile of frogs! Dogs don't know what holding hands is because they have no hands! Three toys in the same area can only be a straight line or a triangle! Those circles are only very roughly circular and the only one that was even completely closed was the least circular.

Please, people. Please.
posted by cmoj at 1:23 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm dubious; these toys look too clean to be dog toys. Every plush dog toy I've ever seen was a slobbery, matted, stained mess after any period of use, especially if the dog uses the toys outside.
posted by 2xplor at 1:52 PM on February 10, 2010


Three toys in the same area can only be a straight line or a triangle!

Came in to say this.
posted by davejay at 3:50 PM on February 10, 2010


dig through the basket of cat toys

It's good to know we're not the only humans to have been trained to put all the cat toys into a basket for the cats' amusement.


We got a big rubber container for our dog's toys when she was a pup. Sometimes she would take all the toys out and play with the container, flinging it around and then sitting in it. Imagine her surprise when she got too big to sit inside-- she would attempt to stuff her butt down into the rubber box and end up tipping it over. She is 8, and no longer tries to sit in it, but she does enjoy rooting around to look for something good to play with. And she, too, stuffs toys and bones into our shoes.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:02 PM on February 10, 2010


I just let my dogs out for a potty break, and as I was walking back through the house (and through their trail of toys) I noticed that if I tilt my head just right, and close one eye, there's a grouping of tennis balls that looks like it forms a pentagram. Should I be contacting Ms. Smuts or an exorcist?
posted by amyms at 6:37 PM on February 10, 2010


How many geometric shapes can you make with just three objects? Apart from a line (where one is unnecessary) you can ONLY make triangles. Face up, face down? If you treat those combinations as equally significant then, statistically speaking, half of "Donnie's triangles" will have all of the toy's either face up or face down.

The parallel lines and half circles, well that's harder to attribute to chance, but assuming Donnie likes the fuss that his owner makes over him when he plays with his toys in ways that seem significant to her then I'm not surprised that he may have learned this behavior from his owner.

Also dogs are stupid and they smell
posted by JustAsItSounds at 7:28 PM on February 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok, so reading more of the commentary on the site, I can see that the owner is making a lot out of a little. It's interesting to wonder why the dog put the toys in the circle that was in that first picture, but then things get silly. Especially considering there are probably many more animals out there who are actually arranging more than three things into lines, circles, etc. Why are they doing it? Do they even have any concept of straight line, or is it a side effect of something else that they're doing (e.g. putting the mouse skulls nose-to-spine, trying to keep the toys as far away from each other as possible, etc.)? Personally, I think there are more interesting answers than "My dog is a mathematical prodigy!"
posted by ErWenn at 8:14 PM on February 10, 2010


I wish my dog would do this with his toys rather than just tearing them into tiny pieces and eating the fabric and dispersing all the stuffing all over the yard.

I guess maybe Donnie has a software engineer/mathematician kind of personality whereas maybe my dog is a genius at QA. Give him 15 minutes with 9 out of 10 dog toys and he's found all the vulnerabilities and probably eaten any easily removable appendages. GIVE ME A GRANT
posted by crinklebat at 8:58 PM on February 10, 2010


This is a case for autistic veternarian Temple Grandin.
posted by neuron at 9:55 PM on February 10, 2010


Spec 80? Yeah... little freaked out. Because i JUST HAD to go back and watch for it. Evil little monkeys. /turns on all the lights.
posted by the_royal_we at 1:41 AM on February 11, 2010


I'm right there with you, crinklebat. The only* toys my dog Duncan can be trusted alone with are the solid plastic Nylabones which take him weeks to destroy. We bought a few of those toys made with that Kevlar firehose material and it took him less than a minute to find the seam and peel it apart. It takes 2-15 minutes for him to kill the squeaker on a ball while we're playing fetch (meaning he only gets to chew on it while he's in the act of returning it to us). We can't leave him alone with a rawhide treat unless we're comfortable with him consuming the whole thing in one sitting.

Duncan is no idiot, but the only arranging he does is to a pile of pillows and blankets that he wants to lie on top of.

*Not counting tennis balls and anything made of solid rubber. This is not because he can't destroy them but because he won't touch them.
posted by ErWenn at 5:39 AM on February 11, 2010


ErWenn, your dog sounds like my dog. Toys are made for destroying. My pup has an uncanny ability to completely eviscerate any soft toy, shred any chew toy, and plow through rawhides like they were marshmallows. She would never line up her toys in any discernible fashion, she kills them dead.
posted by msali at 6:53 AM on February 11, 2010


My really dumb but very Zen old cat used to arrange balls of yarn. I left them in a basket just for her. She'd place one ball in each corner of an area rug and then add one slightly off center in the middle. I don't know what it meant.
posted by puddinghead at 3:11 PM on February 12, 2010


Obviously, puddinghead, she was worried that the rug was going to blow away. The one in the center was just a coincidence.
posted by ErWenn at 6:07 AM on February 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


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