© 2023 WNIJ and WNIU
Northern Public Radio
801 N 1st St.
DeKalb, IL 60115
Northern Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Perspective: Are you smarter than a border collie?

Connie Seraphine

Here’s a little IQ test for all of us two-legged creatures. Compared to our farm animals, how smart are we? First, let’s start with our Border Collie sheep-herding dogs.

  • When you were about three weeks old, did you recognize your name?
  • At four months old, were you able to catch a ball thrown to you?
  • Around six months old, could you learn and remember word commands for running left (“Come by!”), running right (“Away to me!”), and “Lie down!”?
  • Before you were nine months old, could you distinguish a particular whistle sound for a number of movements like: Come by; Away to me; Lie down; Walk up; Take time; Look back; That’ll do!

This time let’s compare our abilities to sheep:

  • In minutes after being born, lambs get up and look for their mother’s teat.
  • Sheep can recognize at least 50 other sheep faces and voices and remember them for at least two years.
  • Sheep can also recognize and remember many human faces and voices after spending some time with them.
  • Can you see objects that are 270 to 320 degrees around you without turning your head? With their rectangular pupils, sheep can!

Many animals have developed cognitive skills that mirror or exceed us as humans. Interacting with sheep and Border Collies for over 20 years has taught us on Heatherhope Farm to be more humble, patient, kind, and always open to surprise.

I’m Connie Seraphine and that is my perspective.

Connie Seraphine is a Sycamore-area writer and poet.