Maureen Ward, a Kentucky dog trainer, claims she taught her dog Mia how to read. Not only is she is ready to prove it, she also wants to spread canine literacy, one dog at a time.
Mia recognizes the words “jump,” “sit,” “bow,” “down,” “shame,” “wave,” “spin,” and “high five.” When Ward hosts demonstrations with Mia, she asks a volunteer to mix up the cards. That way, the audience sees that Mia recognizes the individual words and hasn’t just learned a sequence of tricks.
“When I say by week four your dogs are qualified to read, and they’re like no way!” Ward says of other owners. “And sure enough the dogs are reading by four weeks and their jaws are just dropping to the ground.”
… But how does she do it? Ward said she begins with a vocal command, such as sit, then incorporates a hand gesture to go with the vocal command. She then adds bold letters to the mix, and eventually the dogs recognize a command by seeing the letters.
Ward says dogs learn letters much like humans.
“Basically the same thing,” Ward said. “Taking your letters and spelling them out.”
As cute as this is, I am a bit concerned. Dogs are learning to read, taking the bus by themselves, shoveling snow, and teaching our babies how to crawl. They are already better and cuter than human beings in practically every way, and once they learn how to read, the sky is the limit. The question isn’t how Ward taught Mia to read but how long until man’s best friends start taking man’s best jobs.