Dolphin Cognition and Behavior: A Comparative Approach

By Ronald J. Schusterman; Jeanette A. Thomas et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project

the sequence of "noise, conditioned reinforcement, signal for tail-lift, tail-lift, and reinforcement" several times. It then swam to the other side of the tank, but without apparent agitation, so I took advantage of the pause in the proceedings to put my arms in the water and rinse the fish juice off my hands.

As I was doing this, the dolphin came over, and with one flipper stroked my arm up and down, very vigorously, an affiliative signal frequently seen between dolphins but never, in my experience, from dolphin to person. In this context it might be loosely interpreted as "Okay, stupid, I understand what you mean now, and you're forgiven" ( Pryor, 1974).

This kind of event, a real communication, can be an emotional experience for man and beast alike. When this individual, Malia, later to become a rather wellknown research and performance animal, rubbed my arm, I was touched, and dumped all the rest of the fish into the tank. However, this and all similar anecdotes are not so much an indication of some quasi-human capabilities of an animal or a species, or of the sentimentality of porpoise trainers, but of the enormous potential of interactive training as a window into animal behavior and potentially into animal consciousness.


CONCLUSION

Traditional animal training can also develop a situation of rapport and communication between trainer and subject. Traditional training, however, of dogs or horses, say, requires the patient acquisition of physical skills, sometimes at considerable risk. Just learning to ride a horse involves more time and physical effort than most people care to spend, and that is nothing compared to the physical skills and risks involved in training a horse. Thus the "glimpses through the window" afforded to the traditional animal trainer are not available to most people; and those who are both traditional trainers and convincing communicators are few.

Here, slightly paraphrased, is a statement from a professional writer who is also a trainer:

These are beautiful, marvelous creatures, whose responses and instincts work on a plane as different from humans as water and oil. . . . Insight into their senses and consciousness is like a half-opened door or a half-learned language; our comprehension is maddeningly balked by not having the right sorts of hearing, or sense of touch; or maybe good enough telepathy. The feeling of oneness I have sometimes had with them has been their gift to an inferior being; but maybe my passion to [find out what we can accomplish together] has been my gift to them. ( Francis, 1976)

This paragraph was not written by a dolphin trainer, but by Dick Francis, a horse trainer and steeplechase jockey. The oneness he speaks of is the learned interaction of horse and rider in a race. It's a communication not available to

-259-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Dolphin Cognition and Behavior: A Comparative Approach
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 394

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?