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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

19 Dogs with Superpowers That Will Amaze You

Is your dog this smart?

1 / 20
Sadie and BruceMatthew Cohen for Reader's Digest (2),

The most super of Super Dogs

Early this year, our Editor-in-Chief challenged readers to prove that their dogs were smarter than his own super dog, Sadie. Here are our favorite stories demonstrating that not only are these four-footed friends funny and cuddly, but they are clever to boot.

2 / 20
NestleCourtesy Liz Moore,

Dog turns on lamp to wake up owner

From: Liz Moore

My eight-month-old Havanese puppy, Nestlé, sleeps in a wire crate right next to my bed until I get up at 5:00 a.m. to let her out. I have a three-way touch lamp next to her crate which I turn on every morning. She must have seen me do this countless times in the past four months and somehow figured out that it means I’m getting up. One morning, she started being restless at 4:15 a.m. I told her to go back to sleep. She wouldn’t. Then, I heard her pawing until she turned on this little lamp at 4:30. I finally got up and put her out, and she had to potty!

I thought it was a fluke, but two days later, at 4:35 a.m., she did it again. Today, she tapped the lamp three times to get it to the brightest setting. A few weeks later, 4:24 a.m., light is on. I wondered how I could have forgotten to turn it off; I would not have been able to fall asleep with it shining on my face. Then it hit me! Her royal highness wants up. She has done this multiple times, each time she needs to go to the bathroom. So now the dog controls what time I get up by turning the light on. There’s nothing like waking out of a dead sleep with a bright light shining in your face!

3 / 20
Macy Courtesy Stan Maupin,

Dog tricks other pup into giving up toy

From: Stan Maupin

We had two dogs, but only one “Kong” chew toy. Tonka, the sweetest Rottweiler in the history of the world, liked to doze with the Kong between his front paws. Macy, the gentlest Pit Bull in the world, was more active and slept less than Tonka. She wanted to play with Kong, but Tonka would waken, lift his eyebrow, and warn Macy that it might be better to leave the toy alone whenever she approached. The one thing that united the two was the appearance of anyone outside the window. Both would jump to their feet, run to the window, and bark their warnings whenever anyone dared to approach the window.

Macy carefully weighed her options. One day, she wandered around and around eyeing the Kong, and developed a strategy. She jumped up, started barking, and ran to the window. Of course, Tonka followed suit. As Tonka barked and searched the driveway for an intruder, Macy circled back, grabbed the Kong between her smirking lips, and trotted to her corner. Her strategy worked so well that she repeated it time after time over the next few years.

4 / 20
JackCourtesy Virginia Matheny,

Dog alerts owner to other pup’s seizures

From: Virginia Matheny

Our dog, Buddy, has seizures. Our other dog, Jack, runs to Buddy whenever a seizure is coming on, from wherever in the house he may be (which also alerts us of a seizure about to happen). He then sits next to Buddy, looking outward, to protect him until the seizure passes and Buddy is able to walk. He was not trained for this.

5 / 20
TexasCourtesy Jim Sherrard,

Loyal dog guards sick owner until she passes away

From: Jim Sherrard

Three years ago, my wife of 46 wonderful years passed away from ALS. We were blessed to have a playful male Boxer named Texas. My wife raised Tex from a six-week-old pup into a tall and very muscular 90-pound Boxer that never left her side. He was truly a gentle giant. He faithfully slept, for nine years, at the foot of the bed covered with her pink bathrobe.

In hospice, my wife continuously asked to see Tex, so one day I borrowed a service dog blanket and took him to hospice. We took the elevator up to her floor and when the door opened, he bounded down the hall to her room. How he knew, I don’t know. When I got to the room, Tex was on the foot of the hospital bed; his large paw was in my wife’s hand. That night, Tex was restless and would not sleep in bed, so he slept on the floor. The next morning, I found Tex had passed away during the night.

My wife passed away the next day from the ravages of ALS. At the memorial service, people told me that Texas knew my wife would shortly be taking a voyage of no return, and that he loved her so much that he went ahead to prepare her for the voyage, be her faithful companion, and give her comfort like he always did. I have the ashes of both, and this past summer I spread them together in a small stream in Wyoming, high in the Rocky Mountains where they both loved to travel and play together.

6 / 20
SkippyCourtesy Becky Meyers,

Dog knows owner is deaf

From: Becky Meyers

My family and I have a Welsh Corgi, Skippy. I am profoundly hearing-impaired, as are my two children. Almost as soon as Skippy came to live with us, she seemed to sense that my children and I could not hear. When someone would come to the door, Skippy did not bark. She jumped up from where she was, ran to the door to make sure a guest was standing outside it, then she would run me first and nudge, nudge, nudge me until I would follow her to the door. If my children were nearby, she would do the same with them.

My husband and dad to our two children has perfect hearing. Skippy did not nudge him to let him know someone was at the door—she would go to him and bark! This behavior was consistent throughout our days and nights. If Skippy needed me or our children to wake up at night, she would raise up on her hind legs and nudge us while we slept; if she wanted my husband to wake up, she would go to his side of the bed and bark. Pretty smart dog, huh?!

7 / 20
ColbyCourtey Robyn Sierchio,

Dog teaches little girl to walk

From: Robyn Sierchio

Colby was a retired guide dog and lived with my brother. In 1997, my children and I came to live there, too. My youngest, Rachel, was one year old at the time. We had been living in the house for about a month, and I was sitting in the living room keeping an eye on Rachel. She was crawling around. Colby was laying down on the floor, half-asleep. Rachel crawled over to Colby and pushed herself up so that she was leaning on his back. Rachel started rocking back and forth. Colby very slowly got up. I thought that maybe he was tired of Rachel and would leave the room.

As Colby got up, Rachel ended up standing next to him, holding onto his back. Colby stood there for a bit and then slowly started walking. Rachel took a few steps with Colby and then plopped down on her bottom on the floor. Colby sank to the floor. In a bit, Rachel started leaning on Colby’s back again. Again, Colby rose up and slowly started walking. Rachel took a few steps, wobbled, and sank to the floor. I saw this whole scenario repeated over and over. At first, I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Finally, I understood. Colby was teaching Rachel to walk!

8 / 20
AbbyCourtesy Diane Schroeder,

Dog helps owner recycle

From: Diane Schroeder

Abby is an Australian Shepherd. Already, you’re probably thinking, uh-oh, Australian Shepherds are known to be pretty smart, she might have something here. Abby has the usual smart habits of her breed: herding; learning quickly; anticipating your every move and guiding you where you need to go. But her very special intelligence is helping the world—she’s a master recycler. Our dog recognizes the sound of recyclable materials being opened or used. She comes running when she hears the crinkle of me finishing a bottle of water, the sound of a cereal box being flattened, or (her favorite) a plastic lid or dish ready for the recycling bin.

If Abby isn’t nearby, singing or humming her “recycling song” also brings her to work. Why? She loves to grab these items in her mouth to take to our garage recycling bin, because she’s a working dog by breed. It doesn’t stop here, though. Abby will also patrol our house for recyclable items if she wants a treat. I might be sitting on the couch and she’ll bring me an empty cardboard box. She truly knows what is recyclable and what is not!

9 / 20
LokiCourtesy Christine Barczak,

Rescue dog helps owner cope with illness

From: Christine Barczak

I would like to take a moment to tell you about my Loki. Loki is a Siberian Husky rescue who, quite literally, rescued me. I was in my thirties when I was diagnosed with a rare GI cancer. I was quite sick, even after going through the surgery and chemotherapy, and was having a really hard time with illness, fatigue, depression, and anxiety.

Loki would gently poke me from my nest on the couch when he wanted some exercise. Often, I felt terrible and didn’t want to go. But it helped—the exercise, the fresh air, feeling needed, when I had been the needy one for so long. He got me moving and getting stronger when my own willpower wasn’t enough. And when the tears and frustration came, he would curl up on my lap (yes, a 65-pound lap dog!), look into my eyes, and, somehow, I knew tomorrow would be a better day.

Amazingly, this abandoned dog had the ability to heal. He knew what I needed even when I did not. As I look back and see how we both grew and got healthier together, I am so awed and grateful. We helped heal each other. That seems like a pretty kickass superpower to me. 

10 / 20
ShadowCourtesy Julie Campbell,

The super-bad dog who was untrainable

From: Julie Campbell

My dog was not so much a super dog as he was a super-bad dog. He was hands-down the worst dog I have ever had, yet he out-smarted us for all of his 13 and a half years. A little background: he was a Belgian Sheepdog, a breed renowned for their intelligence. For the first two years of his life, we worked relentlessly to train him to do the basic things one expects out of a good pet. He balked at all of it.

When made to do simple things such as lie down, he would roll on his back and cry out as if he were being beaten. If pushed too hard, he would bite—never to draw blood, but enough to let you know who was in charge. Therein lay his genius; he always got his way.

Frustrated, we sent him to a professional trainer who took him into his home to work with him one-on-one. After the agreed upon two weeks of training, the handler called and sheepishly asked for another two weeks with Shadow, free of charge, as he had been unable to make any progress. In another two weeks, we got the same phone call. So, after six weeks, the dog trainer returned our dog with apologies stating that this was the first dog that he ever deemed untrainable. Shadow appeared quite pleased with himself, having out-smarted all of us.

For all of his 13 years, Shadow bested us, allowing us the privilege of living in his home. On his last day, my daughter commented, “Mom, I know he doesn’t feel good because he is not growling at me when I kiss his face.” That was him. Shadow was a genius. How else could he have compelled us to love the worst dog in the world?

11 / 20
ShilohCourtesy Nancy Mabry,

Dog tricks friend to steal his toy

From: Nancy Mabry

My mini Australian Shepherd, Shiloh, told me to let you know that she is smarter than Sadie. Shiloh has a set of jingle bells on the back door that she rings when she needs to go outside. When we got our black Lab, Hershey, she soon learned that if she heard that bell, she and Shiloh were going outside. More than once, when Hershey had a toy that Shiloh wanted, Shiloh would run to the back door and ring that bell. I would obediently go open the back door, and Hershey would leave her toy where it was, and trot out the back door…as Shiloh stood inside the house, backing up telling me to shut the door. Then she would look at me as if to say, “Now that we put the dog out, I can have the toy!” And she would run get that toy, leaving Hershey outside on the deck with a confused look on her face.

12 / 20
Pud'nCourtesy Tina Viozzi,

Dog steals spot next to mom

From: Tina Viozzi

I was totally enthralled reading about your beloved Sadie, who is truly a super dog. While Pud’n (my Pointer-Houndie mix rescue) may not be as personable as Sadie, she has stolen my heart. I actually call her “my heartbeat.” Though she suffers with severe anxiety, she is a complete mama’s baby. One evening, while sitting on the couch with her two furry siblings on either side of me, Pud decided to take matters into her own paws and ran into the hall where the front door is. She barked as if someone was there, thus starting the traditional stampede of barking mutts to guard the castle moat. Within seconds Pud’n comes prancing into the living room and jumps up tight against my side, sighing with contentment. I laughed like crazy knowing what a genius she was to distract the others just to be next to me herself. Oh, how I love that dog!

13 / 20
RoxieCourtesy Keith Whyte,

Dog finds missing weedwacker part

From: Keith Whyte

When we lived in Queen Creek, Arizona we had a red Queensland Heeler named Roxie. Not only would she herd, but she loved to play fetch with a tennis ball; she would bring it back to you and drop it at your feet. One day, I had been using the string trimmer in the backyard and it suddenly wasn’t working correctly. Upon examination, I noticed that the “bump” knob on the bottom that screws on to hold the string assembly in place had come off. As I was about to begin my methodical “grid search” of our backyard to find the knob, Roxie trotted over to one of many bushes in our backyard to get her tennis ball. As she came prancing over to me to play fetch, I told her I couldn’t, that I had to find the part, but when I finished the yard, I would play with her. With that, she dropped “her ball” between my feet and looked up at me. As I was about to tell her again that I couldn’t play, I noticed her “ball” was the knob to my string trimmer. And her look was one of “Is this what you were wanting?” Needless to say, the string trimmer was put down for a few minutes while we played fetch with her tennis ball. 

14 / 20
HersheyCourtesy Vicki Sharits,

Dog steals pillows for his stash

From: Vicki Sharits

We have a Sheprador named Hershey who is 4 going on 24. Hershey was born outside and lived his first seven weeks outside in an open pen, yet he took to being inside within the first fifteen minutes of being at our house. He crawled onto a table with pillows on it and claimed it for his own. To this day, if anyone takes a pillow off of that table, he growls at them.

Speaking of pillows, Hershey has grown very fond of them and loves to greet visitors and family alike with one in his mouth. Missing a pillow from the couch or your bed? Look behind the kitchen table and you are likely to find it hidden in his “stash”. He loves attention and will parade around with a pillow in his mouth when he gets lonely. Try to grab it and he whisks it away in the nick of time! When visitors come over, he watches them intently and figures out what object they are attached to, such as gloves, shoes, or purse. As with the pillows, he will subtly grab their possession and prance around in front of them! Never does he chew on anything, though.

15 / 20
MistyCourtesy Loretta Riker,

Dog knows her dad passed away

From: Loretta Riker

When my husband Jack was sick and in and out of hospitals and rehab centers, every time I would come home, my dog Misty would sit at the gate and wait to see if he would come out of the car. When he died, she would still sit at the gate waiting for him to come in. I knew that I needed to find a way of giving her closure.  So, about a week after his funeral, I took her to the cemetery with me. As we walked up to his grave I said to her, “Misty, this is where dad is now,” not sure what to expect. She started sniffing the broken ground, started crying, and walked to me to lean against my leg. I knelt down by her and we both cried. But, from that point on she never waited at the gate for him again.

16 / 20
Molly Courtesy Valerie Magpoc,

Dog saves owner’s life

From: Valerie Magpoc

When I was sick and very weak upstairs with the flu, my husband, Rey, was working on the lowest floor of our split-level. All of a sudden my heart rate started to speed up. Oh my—I’d forgotten for three days to take the medicine that helps regulate my heartbeat! That can be fatal; was I going to die? I yelled for Rey but he couldn’t hear. Then our toy fox terrier, Molly, ran into the room. I barely told her to get Daddy. I tried again, and finally she ran out of the room, down the stairs, and I heard her barking frantically. Rey rushed upstairs and got my medicine. I believe that Molly saved my life that day.

17 / 20
KymoCourtesy Jim Storey,

A dog is a faithful friend in more ways than one

From: Jim Storey

Here are three things to know about our superhero dog, Kemosabe (Kymo for short), which means “trusted scout” or “faithful friend”:

1. Once a burglar was trying to break into our garage when Kymo showed up. It wasn’t the fact that there was a huge dog barking in a deep, powerful voice that made him leave his pry bar and other assorted tools. It was the snapping teeth, that sounded like a 600-pound alligator. On second thought, Kymo did herd him off our property.

2. A neighbor stopped by to share some leftover chicken salad. My sister and I were home from college and did not remember where the bowls were. After we repeated the word bowl a couple of times, Kymo dropped her dog bowl on the neighbor’s toe, looking back and forth between the chicken salad and her bowl.

3. One morning my mom made pancakes that weren’t so good, which my dad and I alluded to. Her response? She gave them to the normally ravenous Kymo, who daintily took them to the door, went out in the backyard, and buried them.

18 / 20
BinkyCourtesy Elaine Perkins,

A dog that licks the tears away

From: Elaine Perkins

My dog Binky is smarter than I thought a dog could ever be.  I get migraines and Binky knows when they are bad. When I shed one tear, no matter where she is or the noise around us, Binky comes bounding out from where she is straight toward me, on a mission to assuage my pain. She licks my face fast and hard trying her best to lick my suffering away. If I am lying down, I’d better be prepared because she will jump on my chest. And I can tell you this, it helps! I can shed just as many tears by laughing at comedies or something funny, but Binky just looks at me and then goes back to what she was doing. She knows the difference between pain tears and funny tears. If you’re not already crying, these stories of rescue dogs finding their forever homes will definitely bring you to tears.

19 / 20
Pete the dogCourtesy Virginia Yound,

Too smart to be fooled twice

From: Virginia Young

My dog, Pete, an Australian-type herding dog, was the smartest dog I’ve known. He loved playing “fetch” with us, and his favorite item to “fetch” was one of his seventeen different rubber squeaky toys.  We had named each of the toys, and he knew to fetch the specific toy we requested by name when we wanted to play. If we asked for “purple” he would bring his purple squeaky toy, with which we would then play “fetch”.  If asked for “hot dog,” he’d bring the squeaky rubber hot dog, which we would throw for him to fetch.  Once, I asked him, one by one, to bring me all of his toys.  When I had all seventeen in my lap, I threw all of them at the same time for him to “fetch.”  From that day forward, he would bring the correct toy when asked, but if I asked for a second toy before throwing the first, he would take the first away from me, before going to fetch a second toy!

20 / 20
Courtesy Charlene Stein

Dog tricks owner into stealing pizza

From: Charlene Stein

I was sitting in the family room eating pizza.  Casey begged and jumped and tried everything he could to get a piece.  When he realized that I was not giving in, he gave up and casually walked to the front door to be let out.  I put the pizza on the coffee table and went to let him out. As soon as I got to the door, he dashed back, ate the pizza, then went to sleep.  He never did have to go out!