Dogs are highly intelligent creatures, but are they capable of becoming literate? New York dog trainer Lyssa Howells thinks so. Her 12-year-old English terrier mix, Willow, recognizes written commands, such as sit up and wave. She even plays dead when Howells silently holds up a flashcard with the word bang written on it. Whether Willow can actually read or has just matched the shape of letters to a command is debatable in the veterinary community. But there’s no argument that after six weeks of practice, Willow’s new trick is impressive.
Howells began teaching Willow how to read after accepting a bet from a friend. With a free trip to Mexico at stake, Howells initially used voice and hand signals when working with Willow—a dog that already knew 250 tricks. Once Willow recognized and followed the written commands without help, she and Howells celebrated in Baja on her friend’s dime.
Click here to see Willow and Howells.