Observations placeholder

Rolf, the dog, was able to count, do sums and communicate

Identifier

028127

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

The following report was partly taken from a lecture given by Mr. Duchâtel, a member of the Société psychique de Paris [les Annales des sciences psychiques, numéro d'octobre 1913, p. 290 et suivantes] and from a work by Dr. Mackensie published in the Annales des Sciences psychiques [les Annales des sciences psychiques, numéro de janvier-février 1914, et les Archives de la suisse Romande].

It was in an article by Le Matin that Mr. Duchâtel was informed of the actions of the dog Rolf and he decided to ascertain for himself the reality of these strange stories. So he went to the home of Mrs. Moekel, wife of a lawyer who lives in Mannheim, and these are some of the experiments he conducted.

First of all, Rolf, 3 years old, was a Scottish Ayrdale terrier, with red hair, about sixty centimetres high.

A description of the experience

As quoted in Gabriel Delanne - Materials for use in the study of Reincarnation

At the beginning, Mr. Duchâtel asked the little animal the following question (96-10)/9.

Few primary school children would be able to do this simple calculation; however, Rolf immediately replied 9. When he asked him if there was any left, he gave the number 5.

He correctly solved these two tasks: 10 + 3 = 13; 6 - 2 = 4.

Here comes an important consideration: the dog, intrigued by the presence of a stranger, asked Mrs. Moekel, using her conventional alphabet: "Who is this gentleman?"

Mrs. Moekel showed him the letter of Mr. Duchâtel, and the dog beat "Duhadl", a really extraordinary result.

This is a spontaneous response from the dog, because he had never been taught to answer this question before.

Here are the details provided by Mr. Duchâtel on how Mrs. Moekel's little pet expresses itself:

Rolf's alphabet consists of:

1.  Of 24 characters corresponding to 24 letters (this is the strictly alphabetical part);

2.  5 conventional symbols corresponding to 5 words which are: Ja (yes) 2 strokes, Nein (no) 3 strokes; Mude (tired) 4 strokes, Gasse (street, go to the street) 5 strokes; Bett (bed, go to bed), 7 strokes.

Note that the 24 letters are borrowed from the first 25 digits and not from the first 24 digits.

Is it because the number 4 would have duplicated the twice repeated Yes or the sign of the tired word?

Or is it not rather necessary to attribute this gap in the choice of signs to such an unusual way that you may find it unlikely, whose letters were chosen, on the basis of the study that Mrs Moekel kindly gave me the privilege of telling me about Rolf's life.

In the same work reserved for the Tierseele (the animal soul), a magazine that will soon be published in Bonn, we also read that Rolf never uses the letters Q, X and V hard German which is pronounced more or less like an F.

But we can add that Mister Rolf's simplifications do not stop at that. A firm believer, it seems, in phonetic spelling, he removes as many letters as possible; vowels most often disappear, especially if they are weakly pronounced; and although the German language already has a very simple spelling, Rolf finds a way to reduce the length of words by half.

For example, the name of his homeland Mannheim, which usually has 8 letters, he writes it in 4 letters: Mann. Rolf is able to distinguish and name perfectly all the objects that surround him, and also to realize what a drawing represents. Mr. Duchâtel having shown him the cover of an illustrated magazine brought to him by a son of Mrs. Moekel, a cover representing a vase with flowers, the dog immediately answered: "Glass with small flowers".

Rolf shows great affection for Mrs. Moekel because she cured him after a serious accident that had occurred to him. So he makes every effort to please her. Almost never leaving her, he attends the lessons given by Mrs. Moekel to her youngest daughter. It was then when the most amazing thing that could be imagined happened -  that of having understood the calculation lessons without it ever having been taught directly to him.

The story is so remarkable that I think I have to quote Ms. Moekel's evidence in its entirety.

One day, at noon, I was sitting with the children and helping them with their homework. Our little Frieda, so kind and lively, but a little light-headed, stubbornly refused to solve the 122 x 2 problem, when, in a moment of bad mood, I gave her a slight correction. At that moment the dog, lying under the work table, was looking at us with such big eyes that I said:

Frieda, look, he makes eyes as if he knows that. Rolf approached, sat next to me and looked at me with big eyes; I told him

Rolf, what do you want? Do you know what 2 x 2 is?

To my amazement, he hits my arm with his paws four times. Our eldest suggested that I immediately ask the dog how many are 5 and 5. The answer followed promptly with 10 paws. That same evening, continuing our trials, we saw that the animal solved without fail the simple tasks of addition, subtraction and multiplication.

Note that to learn the alphabet of hits, it was again this extraordinary animal that indicated the number of hits that corresponded to each of the letters. This is how Mrs. Moekel describes this education.

What do you give me for A? Immediately he answered 4, then for B, answer 7, and so on.

I carefully noted the numbers given by Rolf, and the next day I was able to establish to my amazement that the animal had fixed these numbers in his head. We took about 5 letters a day, but I believe that Rolf would not have needed this care and that he would have remembered all the letters as well at one sitting. I had inserted the letters X and V, but Rolf has never used them.

So I made Rolf succeed with easy words, dictated letters of the alphabet I was writing and introduced him when the word was complete.

He understood very easily and seemed to experience great joy in learning.

Here it is undeniable that we are dealing with intellectual manifestations of the dog and, remarkably, he himself chose the numbers corresponding to the letters of the alphabet, just as, spontaneously, he was able to strike with his paw the number of blows necessary to solve the 2 x 2 task. It was his initiative to use this way of answering, and this is a fact which shows on his part more reflections than one could ever expect from an animal that had never been trained to use its paw to express its thoughts.

Sometimes Rolf is mischievous. As people were talking to him about people who were hostile to him, he immediately struck: "They are donkeys". He was scolded, telling him that he too is sometimes a donkey.

He replied "no". So, what are you?

"Lol to his mother." (Lol is short for Rolf.)

Rolf's mindset is manifested by associations of ideas that are very special to him. Thus, during a reading the word "autumn" being presented, he was asked what autumn is. Instead of the word "season", which was expected, Rolf replied: "The time when there are apples". It's simply because at that time we used to make him eat baked food.

Another remark from Sir Roll: Mr. and Mrs. Moekel received the announcement of the engagement of one of their friends with Miss Daisy Falham Chester. We talk as a family about this event and Rolf intervened hitting: "Doctor to have young lady calling herself like our pussy". Daisy is the name of the house's pussy, and this homonym seems to have brightened Mr. Rolf's mischievous soul.

 About this cat, it is worth noting that she also knows how to do small calculations. That's why one day Rolf felt tired, instead of answering the question asked, he struck "Let Barbara take Lol and bring Daisy in".

After all these examples, we can therefore agree with Dr. Bérillon[Les Mémoires topographiques et la capacité calculative chez les animaux]:

Animals whose nervous systems have so much analogy, structure and morphology with those of humans are not automatons, devoid of consciousness, intelligence and reasoning, as they are often described by people. Education and training efforts identical to those applied to the child's education would certainly lead to unexpected results in the long run.

This is precisely what all people who love animals and have the patience necessary to educate them have verified; this is what we will see a bit later on.

In Dr. Mackensie's report there is a story of a small touching scene. "Mrs. Moekel having separated from her little daughter Frieda to put her in boarding school, was crying, when Rolf, without being invited, knocked: "Mom, don't cry, it hurts Lol".

Rolf has a partner, the dog Jela, who also knows arithmetic, but is less skilled than her partner.

We saw that Daisy's pussy is also able to do some small operations; this is how Drs. Mackensie and Wilser presented her with the following tasks:

17 + 4 divided by 7 - 1, she answers: there are still 2 left.

3 x 3-5, she answers: there are 4 left.

This is definitely the best demonstration of Mrs. Moekel's faculty of education.

However, it should not be believed that these animals have no difficulty in performing this mental work; they are sometimes very tired of solving problems. Dr. Mackensie says, "You are struck by the dog's highly noticeable mental effort, which results in sighs, panting or yawning, and can even produce nasal bleeding after long and tiring sessions.

Therefore, undoubtedly, it is the animal that makes these intellectual efforts without any outside intervention.

However intelligent Rolf may be, he is still an animal for which physical satisfaction takes precedence over all others, because when Dr. Mackensie asks him: "Tell me what you love more than anything else?" he answers without hesitation: "Eat smoked salmon".

To exclude absolutely the hypotheses of unconscious signals perceived by the animal or a perception of thought, Dr. Mackensie repeated Dr. Grabow's experiment with the Hans horse by modifying it a little. Because of its importance, I quote verbatim from Dr. Mackensie's report[Annales des sciences psychiques, février 1914, p. 41. ]:

So I decided to prepare four small cards that I brought with me. I ask Mrs. Moekel to draw me a canary, or another bird on one of the cards, and to write on the other, in her usual handwriting for the dog, the name of the little girl Karla whom he loves very much.

In the meantime, I draw on one of the two remaining small cards a large star and fill it with color with the blue pencil, and on the other, 2 adjacent squares, one blue, the other red, also filled with color.

As long as this preparation lasts, Rolf remains absent; when he returns, the cards are already enclosed in envelopes also brought by me. So I ask little Karla to go to another room and mix the envelopes as best she can, so that I can no longer know what they contain and bring them back to me. That is what has been done.

All the assistants, including myself, are standing behind Mrs. Moekel. Also, after careful examination, I excluded the presence of any portion of ice cream.

All the cards are located with their drawn parts on the same side, i.e. towards the front of their corresponding envelopes. So I can easily extract one with the certainty that I won't see the drawing. I perform the manoeuvre behind Mrs. Moekel's head; then I lift the cardboard, unknown to myself, over her head and extend it from top to bottom, always with the drawn side facing the dog only.

She takes the cardboard as I give it to her; she shows it to the dog for a moment, encouraging him to say what he has seen, so I always take it back in the same way and put it back into the envelope, then this one back into my pocket. I absolutely refute that anyone other than the dog could have seen the drawing.

This guy doesn't want to hear about answering. He strikes with an impulse of 4 (tired), lies on the ground and wants to leave.

Mrs. Moekel, very worried about the outcome of the experiment, prays, begs and then threatens Rolf.

In my turn I encourage and encourage him as much as I can and I promise him that if he answers well I will show him several images I have brought for him. This seems to be the deciding factor, and finally he strikes without hesitation: burp blau eck (red and blue square).

So the lucky thing was that it was a figure drawn by me that came out. In this way, any possible suspicion about the validity of the experiment, which can be said to have been fully successful, disappears.

Rolf knows perfectly well how to distinguish himself from his canine brethren. Dr. Mackensie showed him an engraving of a basset dog, and Rolf replied dog. So the doctor said to him, "How is he different from you?" Immediately Rolf replied: "Other legs". It was impossible to better specify the difference.

It is therefore quite obvious that it was Rolf himself who, without any outside intervention, was able to recognize and describe Dr. Mackensie's drawing, at the same time as he found the exact words to express his thoughts. These are really intelligent phenomena that show that the animal psyche is closer to ours than one might have thought.

An interesting question is how animals understand each other without having articulated language. In the correspondence between Ms. Moekel and Dr. Mackensie, we find the following

Mrs. Moekel questioning Rolf said to him:

"How do you get along with the other dogs? That is, how do you make yourself understood by them and how do they understand you?" Rolf is silent.

"Did you understand my question?

A. Yes - So[N'oublions pas que l'orthographe du chien est fantaisiste]?

R. Bin We din aug sn glabn mid mund bellen welden, auch sehen kla pen, mi mund", barking, wagging the tail, also seeing the movements with the mouth.

The word Aug could mean (eye). In this case, the answer would be much more precise and complete.

The day when official science will want to follow the path opened by Mr. Von Osten, Mr. Krall and Mrs. Moekel, the veil that still covers the process of the development of intelligence through the animal line will tear and we will eventually understand how this mental evolution occurred, which, at the lowest degrees on the zoological scale, has reached the magnificent development that we observe among the most famous representatives of the human race.

 

The source of the experience

Delanne, Gabriel

Concepts, symbols and science items

Concepts

Symbols

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Suppressions

Being an animal

References