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Video goodness: Border collie plays three-card monte

We knew border collies were smart, but we didn't know any dog was this smart.

Storm, a border collie from the U.K. who is also adept at playing Yahtzee, really impressed us with his latest trick. Grabbing a playing card from a deck -- that's already more than many dogs would be able to accomplish. Somehow selecting it after watching it be shuffled about with two other cards is an entirely different matter. (Skeptics, we accept the possibility that all three cards Storm's owner shuffles here are the ace of hearts. Even if that's the case, we'd still be impressed!)

Of course, border collies are known for their well-above-average intelligence. Psychology professor Stanley Coren, in his 1994 book "The Intelligence of Dogs," ranked dozens of dog breeds based on their ability to learn new commands. Coming in first? You guessed it, the border collie. (Rounding out the top 10 were the poodle, German shepherd, golden retriever, Doberman pinscher, Shetland sheepdog, Labrador retriever, papillon, Rottweiler and Australian cattle dog. At the bottom: borzois, chow chows, bulldogs, basenjis and Afghan hounds.)

Though he clearly knew border collies were good at learning new things, we bet even Coren couldn't have anticipated Storm's skill at three-card monte.

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-- Lindsay Barnett

Video: StormsAntics via YouTube

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As a border collie owner, I have no question this dog has the intelligence to recognize objects consistently.

However, this might be an example of the "Clever Hans Effect" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clever_Hans#The_Clever_Hans_effect), where the owner is unconsciously giving the dog a cue to select the correct card.

Since the dog is looking at the owner's hands while she's shuffling the cards, it's possible that the owner always uses the same hand (the one with her ring) to move the ace card. The dog may have learned that the correct card to select is always the one under the owner's ring hand.

To verify that the dog is actually tracking the card and not the owner's hand (or some other unconscious cue), the owner would have to be taken out of the process as they did for Rico, the border collie that knew the names of 200 items (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rico_%28Border_Collie%29).

"Skeptics, we accept the possibility that all three cards Storm's owner shuffles here are the ace of hearts."

Actually, if you look at the cards, they are obviously different cards.

Impressive cognitive abilities by the collie!!!

Or... the dog could notice that it had bent the card with it's teeth, or that it had drooled on the ace and thus could smell the card, ect, ect

Put a litttle bacon grease on one card and it'll find it all the time. I know I would.

Look the video over again and you'll see she's moving the ace with both hands.

Notice big long nose? It connects to about half of a very good brain.


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