Proof that dogs are the world’s greatest con artists

FORT KENT, Maine — Dogs may be man’s best friend. But they are also manipulative, deceitful and willful creatures.

How else could have they survived next to us for thousands of years?

Science is now backing that up.

An online article on the Smithsonian website cites results of a study by Marianne Heberlien of the University of Zurich that were published in the journal Animal Cognition. Heberlien developed an experiment to determine if dogs are capable of using deceptive tactics for their own gain, after she observed one of her own dogs pretending to spot something interesting outside, prompting her other dog to relinquish a favored sleeping spot.

I could have saved her the time and trouble of that study based on my share of canine con artists here on Rusty Metal Farm.

Remember Corky, everyone’s favorite shusky?

She once conned my friend Julie into feeding her a second supper after I had already fed her and I was grabbing a quick nap on the couch. Julie came in and, after seeing Corky’s imploring eyes, figured there was no way she’d already eaten.

“I did wonder why she ate so fast,” Julie said after the jig was up. “She must have been afraid you’d wake up and take the food away!”

Then there is my sled dog Pi. Once a month or so I dispense beef bones to the dogs in lieu of their regular breakfast.

The Fiddlehead Focus / St. John Valley Times staff are pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “Proof that dogs are the world’s greatest con artists,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Julia Bayly, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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