Not-So-Stupid Pet Tricks

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None of this comes as a surprise to Warren Eckstein, an animal behaviorist and radio broadcaster who produces the animal segments on television's Live with Regis & Kathie Lee. "Years ago," he says, "I wrote an article on the effects of divorce on pets. People said I was crazy. Now it's actively under research." Eckstein even attacks the conventional wisdom that dogs are gregarious and cats are aloof. "It all depends on how you treat them. Raise a kitten the way you would a puppy, and it will grow up to act like a dog." (Scientists like Bekoff insist that the behavioral differences are in fact innate and that they are relics of the animals' past: wolves, the ancestors of dogs, are pack animals, while most feral cats are solitary.)

The bottom line: anthropomorphism has been proclaimed O.K. Your cat may well be grinning at you. Your dog may really be in a depression. And pets may be smarter than some of us think. After all, it took no time at all for Newton to train me to chase him through a farmer's field, trying desperately to retrieve a Frisbee.

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