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I read this short story years -- decades -- ago.

A young woman is spending her last day at home before joining an interstellar expedition to search for non-human intelligence. She lives on a sheep station in New Zealand.

As she prepares for her upcoming trip, she is unaware of the non-human intelligence all around her. The family dogs, who are working dogs, do something complex and intelligent but I can't remember what; the radio reports amazing research on dolphin ?? elephant ?? behavior; there is something else that makes the same point.

The reader knows that the dogs know she is leaving, and that they may never see her again. One is left with the feeling that the expedition will find non-human intelligence, but will not recognize it.

It was probably (95% probability ?) in a magazine, but I cannot absolutely rule out an anthology. Unlikely to have been the 50s. Could have been 60s or 70s. Probably not as late as the 80s. The only magazines I read regularly were Astounding (later Analog) and F&SF. Occasionally I read another mag -- Amazing? -- the name of which I can't recall.

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    Was this a short story? Was it in a collection/anthology or was it in a magazine? How many decades ago? Was it from the 50s or 60s? – user14111 Sep 12 '15 at 21:48
  • @user14111 It was a short story, definitely. It was probably (95% probability ?) in a magazine, but I cannot absolutely rule out an anthology. Unlikely to have been the 50s. Could have been 60s or 70s. Probably not as late as the 80s. The only magazines I read regularly were Astounding (later Analog) and F&SF. Occasionally I read another mag -- Amazing ?? can't recall its name. I never read fanzines. Thanks for your interest. – ab2 Sep 12 '15 at 23:25
  • I'm sure I read this as well, either in an anthology or in Analog or IASSF. I believe the issues were from the 90s. – Aaron Gullison Aug 29 '16 at 18:30
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+50

Look Closer by Amy Bechtel

Excerpts from the Google book:

Her dad and her brother Hamish were bringing in the last mob of sheep off the hill pasture; it was shearing time. For a moment Jess felt out of place. She ought to be down with them, helping with the work. Shearing had hardly begun, and next year when tupping season and lambing season came round, she would be gone. She was eighteen and she was leaving the small sheep farm where she had lived her life; she was leaving it forever. This very day she would catch a bus to Invercargill, and from there fly south, to Antarctica, to her future.

[...]

Jess laughed. "Communicate with a goldfish? But they're not — " "Not sentient? Maybe not. But what have they found on Marley's Planet? They're not really sure yet, are they?” “It's an intelligence,” Jess said. “A mind at work.” “Maybe.” “I know it is.”

[...]

Back on the farm, Mick sat by the gate, staring at the road, his gaze fixed on the last spot he had seen her. As if he could draw her back; as if he could make her look closer, and see what had been around her all along.

  • Thanks, a remarkable find of a remarkable story. The last quotation you selected summed it all up. I have to wait 6 hours to award the bounty. – ab2 Jun 2 at 20:28

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