Naked Science Forum

Life Sciences => Plant Sciences, Zoology & Evolution => Topic started by: Robert Watson on 19/07/2008 10:35:17

Title: Do guide dogs understand the role they are fulfilling?
Post by: Robert Watson on 19/07/2008 10:35:17
Robert Watson asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi,

My name is Robert Watson from Sydney, NSW, Australia.

I've always wondered, given how incredible & successful seeing eye dogs (guide dogs) are, does a seeing eye dog understand the role that it plays for its master?

Or is it just superlative training causing conditioned responses in the seeing eye dog.

Thank you.

Robert.

What do you think?
Title: Do guide dogs understand the role they are fulfilling?
Post by: RD on 19/07/2008 21:59:16
Allegedly some guide dogs do not understand their role...

Quote
"We will not have him put down. Lucky is basically a damn good guide dog," Ernst Gerber, a dog trainer from Wuppertal told reporters. "He just needs a little brush-up on some elementary skills, that's all." Gerber admitted to the press conference that Lucky, a German shepherd guide-dog for the blind, had so far been responsible for the deaths of all four of his previous owners. "I admit it's not an impressive record on paper. He led his first owner in front of a bus, and the second off the end of a pier. He actually pushed his third owner off a railway platform just as the Cologne to Frankfurt express was approaching and he walked his fourth owner into heavy traffic, before abandoning him and running away to safety. But, apart from epileptic fits, he has a lovely temperament. And guide dogs are difficult to train these days."

Asked if Lucky's fifth owner would be told about his previous record, Gerber replied: "No. It would make them nervous, and would make Lucky nervous. And when Lucky gets nervous he's liable to do something silly."
http://www.zipadeeday.com/viewarticle.asp?article=21

(apocryphal ?)

Title: Do guide dogs understand the role they are fulfilling?
Post by: LeeE on 21/07/2008 01:13:57
It's not often I'm rendered speechless, but that worked.