By Vicki Hearne
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Extra info for Adam's Task: Calling Animals by Name
The same is true of horse stories-"intelligent" and "bold" are synonyms in discussions of Trigger or Tony the Wonder Horse or Two-Bits, the New York City police horse in Irving Crump's tale, in which, for the human heroes as well, "educated," "smart" and "courageous" are virtues that seem to entail one another. In real life, the case of competent police-dog trackers indicates what I have in mind. A good police dog has not only a large vocabulary but also extraordinary social skills. He understands many forms of human culture and has his being within them.
There is also the story of Tarzan of the Apes. I suspect that these stories are accurate in their revelations of wolfish or chimpish civilization, and also accurate in that it is always, to my knowledge, the human A Walk with Washoe: How Far Can We Go? 23 animal. And since human beings have for all practical purposes no wolfish social skills, the wolf regards the human being as a wild animal, and the wolf is correct. He doesn't trust us, with perfectly good reason. The wolf is not alone in his regard for the commitments talking with humans implies.
The dog fits. But Washoe doesn't fit. Roger Fouts is working on a research project that he hopes will culminate in turning Washoe loose in Africa, with a band of other signing chimps, where they can be studied in a wild situation. The hunch is that having language will enable the band to survive despite their having learned no wild chimpanzee social and survival skills. It may work, and the news will be out: language is adaptive. ) I feel foolish, as though I were one of the people the Koehlers call the "humaniacs" who weep when they see dogs being worked, and it is clear that I am in the wrong story.
Adam's Task: Calling Animals by Name by Vicki Hearne