This WaPo story, reporting on a study published in the journal "Current Biology", asserts that dogs think more than we thought they think. Well, at least they seem to imitate selectively (depending on the context) and may use the same cognitive process as an infant. Some researches are saying that a dog can put himself inside the head of another dog, and perhaps even people, in order to make relatively complex decisions; perhaps even think about a person’s intention; they may even have a sense of awarness that may be a higher level of consciousness than previously thought.
I got a dog (a puppy) for my mother on her birthday three weeks ago. It is a Miniature Schnauzer. She named it Choki, (as in choki, but with a short "o", not as in choke, rather as in chuck) meaning "little chocolate."
To my surprise she fell for Choki immediately even though she has never been a dog lover. She liked this particular dog, but she doesn’t like Great Danes, or the Bull Terrier down the street. In short, my mother knows that the various individual dogs she has met or seen are in fact dogs. She knows that dog is a universal, and Choki is just a particular dog; she knows that this cute and loving creature named Choki is a dog. She recognizes the universal dog in her particular dog. Or, as an old friend used to put it, she understands what a common noun is, and her speech about dogs (or anything else) is therefore inteligible, albeit in Hungarian (most of the time). She also knows this, and would contend that her mind is free to think about all kinds of common nouns.
One of the scientists, a Marc Bekoff, in the article says this: "Every day, we’re discovering surprises about animals and finding out animals are far more intelligent and far more emotional than we previously thought. We’re really breaking down the lines between the species."
Now, my mother knows that Mark Bekoff is a scientist, and that all scientists are human beings. She also knows that human beings, even Mark Bekoff, can think about dogs. She also knows that even when a particular man is wrong in his thinking, he is still more intelligent than any dog, although, in this case it may be a close call because she also thinks Choki is very, very smart.