Bunny isn't like other dogs. Because while they're thinking about days at the dog park and how to outwit the neighbour's cat for once, Bunny is pondering much deeper questions.
The philosophising pooch expresses her thoughts via a set of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device buttons. AAC boards feature a series of buttons that correspond with a word. Press the button, and you hear the word.
The biggest question a dog can ask
Most canines who master the ACCs go straight for words like 'play', 'outside,' and 'fetch.' But not Bunny. During a recent session, she hit the buttons for 'what,' 'is,' and then 'dog.' In other words, she asked, 'what is dog!?'
Bunny's musings have turned her into a social media star. She currently has over 6million followers on TikTok and 1million more on Instagram.
Bunny's ACC 'games' are part of the "They Can Talk" project. It uses ACC boards to run language experiments between humans and their dogs. Although it's more fun than hard science, the project is led by Federico Rossano, director of the Comparative Cognition Lab at the University of California–San Diego.
So what's really going on in Bunny's dog brain? Is this four-legged existentialist experiencing her first crisis of self? Or is this another case of the human mind imposing a sense of order on a random set of coincidences?
A question with no answer
Research suggests that dogs have a relatively complex theory of mind. Theory of mind is strongly associated with self-awareness and allows us to understand that others have thoughts and emotions different from our own.
Dogs have enough theory of mind to experience guilt and sense when we might need an extra cuddle. But can they really question their own place in an unknowable universe?
Probably not. But let's see what Bunny comes up with next before we draw a line under that question.