Most dogs are very intelligent and can be taught all kinds of cool tricks. But apparently, one can also be taught some serious math skills – like 5-year-old Stewie, a Scottish terrier who is quite intelligent. This smart pup has been learning new things ever since he was 3-months-old.
“It was clear from the beginning that Stewie was special. My teacher husband Mauro noted how much Stewie reminded him of his gifted students,” Ian, Stewie’s owner, said to PEOPLE.
The first signs of Stewie’s intelligence began to show just after Ian and his husband brought him home as a 10-week-old puppy.
“Like most puppies, he would wait by the door and bark at it when he wanted to go out. But after a few weeks when he had to go number two he would instead enter one of the bathrooms and start barking at the toilet, having made the somewhat embarrassing connection on his own of what really goes on behind those closed doors,” Ian said.
After figuring out the logistics of the bathroom, Stewie then “figured out on his own how to open the closet doors and get to the toy of his choosing,” and soon after that, he began to expand his vocabulary.
“I have always believed in talking to my dogs,” Ian said before adding that he found that dogs can have “enormous vocabularies.”
“One day I was getting ready to take Stewie out and, as I usually did, I reminded him that I was using the ‘brush’ and then putting on his ‘collar’ and ‘harness’. But this day, when I grabbed the keys to go he hit the brakes and refused to budge. Then I saw that he was looking at the keys and once I said ‘keys’ we were good to go,” Ian shared.
He added, “It had never occurred to me to teach him the word for keys because I just didn’t think it was relevant or something he would be remotely interested in. Anyway, that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, one which I realized could never be a one-way street where I merely imposed all my expectations or wishes.”
That is when Ian decided to explore just how capable Stewie was of learning things, and that’s when he tried teaching him math.
“When it came time to educate Stewie I read up on literally everything there was about animal intelligence,” Ian said. These studies led him to Chaser – a Border Collie who learned to differentiate between over 2000 toys and fetch them by name, with help from her owner, John Pilley Jr., a retired psychology professor.
“I wondered if instead of 2000 toys I could teach Stewie to differentiate between 2000 numbers. I basically replaced one kind of object, a toy, with a different object, a wooden number, teaching him not just the name of each object (‘one,’ ‘two’…) but also showing him the corresponding numerical value of that object (represented by one penny, two pennies, and so on),” Ian said. “Once I realized I could teach Stewie how to count, I taught him to do math exactly the way I remember learning it myself.”
As the video demonstrates, Stewie quickly took to his 45-minute math classes, which take place five times a week, “because he never misses an opportunity to remind me how much smarter than me he is,” Ian said.
“In the video, I ask Stewie addition and subtraction questions and Stewie answers by picking up the correct number and placing it on an answer line (the line of rectangles directly in front of him as he begins the task),” Ian said about his teaching process.
He continued, “The numbers from Stewie’s P.O.V. are 1 through 9 with 0 at the end, next to the 9. The numbers are always in the same relative position in all of the math exercises. The best way to understand this is that Stewie is in effect ‘writing’ his answers on the answer line.”
Because Stewie was so good, Ian recently decided to try teaching Stewie multiplication and division – skills that the Scottie is already doing well at.
As long as Stewie continues to show interest, Ian plans to continue teaching him new tricks.
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While Ian is amazed by Stewie’s intelligence, it’s not his brains that he loves most, but rather his personality.
“He is opinionated and prone to tantrums, but at heart a sweet boy,” Ian said. “Of course, he is highly intelligent, but what I love about him most is his sense of humor.”
To follow Stewie and his adventures of intelligence, subscribe to (The Stewie Tapes) on YouTube.
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