Smart streeties cross streets!
The cognitive ability of animals has been capturing the imagination of many animal behaviour scientists and ethologists. While lab tests are revealing so much about many of these animals, observation of street dogs give us a whole new perspective on their cognitive abilities. For instance, in Bangalore, one of the most fascinating (and sometimes scary) sight, is watching free ranging dogs crossing the streets.
Anyone who has been in the city in the last decade will attest to how Bangalore traffic redefines the word "chaos". If you have not been in Bangalore, we highly recommend you do a quick internet video search of Bangalore Traffic to get an idea of what it is like and now imagine a dog, not guided or trained by any human, attempting the feat of crossing our streets. While many of these dogs may have people who feed them and care for them, no one is training them and certainly not on a skill like crossing a Bangalore road. And yet these streeties seem to figure it out on their own. If this sounds unbelievable, it looks just as unbelievable. More so when you notice how these dogs actually do it.
These dogs are not working with traffic lights. No one obeys them in Bangalore anyways. Neither are the streeties wildly darting across the road, ducking from oncoming traffic. It's FAR more strategic - find a human who intends to cross the road and looks like he/she knows how to do it and then hang out with them and do it with them. Well...some of them. Then we have seen a few that manage it all quite smoothly on their own, with no help at all. We do not have empirical tests to see how well thought out their strategies are or how they develop these skills, but we sure do have many videos that how them doing it and here we managed to find one of a streetie, tagging along with a random stranger and crossing the street like a pro.
Of course, this is dangerous to them and they do sometimes end up getting run over too, especially at nights, when there are no humans they can rely on and drivers are faster and unpredictable. Kind hearted dog lovers repeatedly try to put reflective collars on them, so that fast drivers are able to see them and will try to avoid them. It helps. Every little bit helps. These animals are so fascinating and we are only now beginning to understand their ability as well as the value they bring to humans and urban ecosystems. There is more to these incredible animals, if we took the time to understand them.
Video Credit: Vikash Singh (Instagram handle @imvikashsingh9)