My Dog is a Genius

Last week I heard a presentation by Michael Gelb who wrote the book “How to think Like Leonardo da Vinci. Seven Steps to Genius Every Day”. It was so much fun and inspiring that I was instantly drawn to read his book which my husband had bought many years ago and was sitting gathering dust in our bookcase!

Gelb writes that the potential of the human mind is so vast that we have just merely begun to understand it. We are all born geniuses and are capable of extraordinary accomplishments. The theory that we are born with a fixed intelligence measurable by the traditional IQ is obsolete. In fact recent research now indicates that we are endowed with seven intelligences: Logical- Mathematical, Verbal-Linguistic, Spatial-Mechanical, Musical, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal-Social and Intrapersonal (Self Knowledge). It is also not true, that as we age our mental capabilities necessarily decline. Actually, our brain can improve with age because our neurons never stop making new complex connections throughout our lives.
Babies of all species, including human, start learning by imitation. But as we become adults, we can choose our teachers and role models, so he invites to choose “the best”.
So if you want to become a better golfer, study Tiger Woods, if you want to become a better leader study Abraham Lincoln, you get the idea. So by studying Leonardo we can cultivate and expand the genius in all of us.

Initially you think, well that is very encouraging, Mr Gelb, but have you noticed we are not living in the Renaissance era any more? But the modern twist that Gelb adds to the Seven “da Vinci Principles” are really inspiring. These are in Italian, the master’s language:
Curiosita: An insatiable curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning. This is our birth right of genius.
Dimostrazione: A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence and a willingness to learn from mistakes. Gelb also points out that for the modern Renaissance person this entails being an independent and original thinker because we live immersed in information overload. So think for yourself.
Sensazione: The continual refinement and sharpening of the senses.
Sfumato: which literally means “going up in smoke”; a willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty. In modern days: tap into and trust your intuition.
Arte/Scienza: Maintaining a balance between left and right brain.
Corporalita: cultivation of fitness, ambidexterity, grace. Nowadays it also includes a balance of body and mind, respecting your body, health and well-being.
Connessione: Recognizing and appreciating the interconnectedness of ALL things; We are all one.

So just like Gelb gives his research a modern twist, you guessed it. I could not help but give it a canine twist. This is why Leonardo Da Vinci ended up in a Blog about dogs!
But really, the more I read, the more I am convinced that our dogs ARE geniuses!

Let’s look at each principle:
Curiosita: Can you, move, eat, sleep, open a package or go to the bathroom without your dog watching closely? Do you get every inch of your body inspected when you come back from work? and God forbid you went somewhere where there was a dog AND you touch him. Does your dog analyze every particle of dirt attached to the soles of your shoes?
Demostrazione: Does your dog volunteer before anyone else in your family for any possible activity that you might think of? Let’s go for a ride, eat, go for a walk, go feed the horses, sit on the couch and watch a movie… You name it, he will experience it .
Sensazione: Your dog can hear a bread crumb fall on the rug and use his nose to find it even it fell into a shaggy rug!
Sfumato: Has your dog ever raised his hackles and growled at a person and you later found he was a “bad” person? Talk about intuition and trusting it, in spite of the fact that you are probably scolding him “Stop it, bad dog, Oh my, I don’t’ know what got into him, he is never like this….”
Arte/Scienza: Ok, I admit it, I had to think a little hard about this one, but this is just so if we think inside the box of art as in painting and science as in math. Dogs, have the ability to calculate the flight path of a Frisbee so they can catch it in mid air and I consider the nose prints in my car windows “artsy”. I also know they can count; try giving one of your dogs one treat and the other one two. Watching dogs run and play is poetry in motion and it brings as much joy and emotion to my heart as a beautiful work of art.
Corporalita: Dogs can expertly use their bodies to occupy the most space in bed while you lay cramped in a little side struggling not to fall off the edge. Dogs are naturally coordinated and graceful and if we fed them good food instead of crappy kibble they would be very fit and healthy; And if we exercised them enough we would BOTH be fit and healthy.
Connessione: Dog’s stand on four paws instead of two feet on this earth and therefore they are twice as “grounded” as we are. If we embraced life with the authenticity, joy and love that dogs do, we would really come to understand without any doubt that we indeed are all one.

How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci. Seven Steps to Genius Every Day by Michael J. Gelb.
Dell Publishing 1998

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