They can’t read, write or grill a steak, but dogs are pretty darn smart and evidence of that can be found in many ways.

For example, there have been three recent local cases in which dogs were responsible for alerting their owners of a house fire in progress. In more than one of those, the owners might not have lived through the incident if their trusty canine companion hadn’t made them aware of the danger.

After one of those incidents took place last week, Raymondville Fire Department Chief Mike Jackson acknowledged dogs’ roles in helping save lives.

“It’s amazing how often that happens,” Jackson said. “They know what’s going on.”

My wife, Wendy, and a friend of hers were talking not long ago about the intelligence of dogs, and the friend said they know very well what’s going on around them, but they just can’t speak about it.

“God has them muted,” she said.

Indeed, dogs don’t have the ability to articulate their thoughts or observations, they can only bark. But even that simple, singular sound they make is often involved when they display their smarts.

Just ask the potential fire victims; they’ll probably all tell you there was an important message being conveyed when their dog barked them awake as smoke filled their homes.

But even without vocalizing, dogs are able to let people know what they’re thinking or feeling.

For example, Wendy was recently getting ready for an out-of-state trip to visit friends, and as she packed her suitcase and made other preparations, our dog, Gertie (The Permapup), made it obvious she knew that “mom was leaving again.” She spent time lying around in sort of pouty fashion, and the look on her face spoke volumes as she appeared saddened and disappointed with the realization that she would have only “dad” around for a while.

Like all dogs, Gertie displays emotion and makes how she’s feeling clear. Her expression brightens when she’s happy or excited, and darkens when she’s unhappy or feeling like she’s in trouble. Her ears stand tall when there are treats about, and flatten when she’s scolded.

She’ll even tilt her head slightly to one side when she sees or hears something that makes her confused or extra curious. I love that; it’s fun to watch her actually trying to process something she doesn’t fully comprehend – just like a human would.

And dogs learn to do a lot of other things, like track bad guys, find drugs and assist blind people or wounded veterans. That takes something special, and dogs have it.

Anyway, while they might at times stink or make unwelcome noise, dogs are a unique and integral part of our lives, and the way God has appointed them as the animals closest to mankind is a wondrous thing. And the way He has allowed them to communicate without words is also amazing.

Thank God for dogs. You never know when yours might help you survive.

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