05/16/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Does Bo Know He's Top Dog?

Sooner or later, someone is going to ask Bo, the 6-month-old Portuguese water dog who moved into the White House this week, if he knows the answer to a simple question: Who's a good boy?

The question will of course be rhetorical, since Bo, whose raison d'être is to be furry and sweet, has significantly fewer performance expectations than his master. But it will by no means be idle, at least not to the psychologists, neuroscientists, philosophers and kissy-face dog owners who for centuries have pondered the mysteries of canine consciousness. What, they ask, does a creature that lives to chew shoes and chase tennis balls really know about himself and his surroundings?

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