Friday, March 7, 2014

Feel-Good Friday: Dogs are People too!?!

If you're a regular reader of the blog, I bet you don't need any proof that dogs can sense our emotions. We have featured many stories here of people who say it is their dog that rescued them and not the other way around, and I am one of them. You can read Wiley's story via the tab on the top of the page, but there have been many other times that I can sense Wiley trying to hone in on someone's pain or sadness and comfort them. In fact were he not so neurotic himself, and thus in need of reassurance quite often, I think he would be a stupendous therapy dog. He is by far one of the most sensitive animals I've ever known. 

One of my favorite pics, taken by Amy while we were chatting on FaceTime. Wiley was trying to get in on the conversation. 

However, although we may not need evidence or proof about a dog's ability to read our emotions, there was a new study published in Current Biology that offers some. Researchers were able to train 11 dogs to sit still long enough to perform an MRI on their brains. They played around 200 recordings of sounds dogs and humans typically make, including crying, whining, and barking. Well-the barking was probably limited to just the dogs. I don't think they had any humans barking. 

Wiley with Jenny's bowl.

Now, if you want a very technical description you can click here to the original CBS news story.  If you want a very thoughtful analysis of findings such as these, read Gregory Berns's article here.   I'll break it down for you as such: the areas of the brain that responded to the voice sounds were the same in dogs as they are in humans! Not only that, but the amount of brain response varied based on whether the sound was happy or sad.   Uh-huh. Yep. We are not surprised are we readers?

It doesn't matter why our dogs know how to make us feel better, and it doesn't matter how they know how to make us feel better. The fact is, most responsible dog "owners" feel that synergy from their pets, and know there is a mutual benefit to the relationship that is difficult to even quantify. Nonetheless, this kind of research is important, because I believe it supports the absolute axiom that animals need to be treated with respect and protected from abuse. If dogs can feel our emotions and respond to them, how on earth do we justify such deplorable situations as dog-fighting, puppy mills, and of course abuse and neglect?   If scientific evidence will help convince lawmakers to get on board in protecting those who need protection, then I am all in favor of it. 

Wiley is hiding his head behind my shoulder because he doesn't like car rides.

And speaking of laws to protect animals, three cheers for Chicago for passing an ordinance that all pets sold within the city's pet stores will have to come from rescues or shelters from now on. No more propping up the puppy mill pipeline.  There are other major cities, such as Los Angeles, that have this law in place. However, Chicago is the first mid-west city to do so. This is important because there are a lot of puppy mills located in the mid-west. You can read more about the ordinance here.

He fell asleep sitting up watching me eat dinner.

I picked the collection of pictures you see here because I feel they showcase Wiley's distinct personality quite well. Dogs are not interchangeable. They are not replaceable either. Not only are they a part of our household, they are a part of our family, responsive and supportive and in many cases necessary. We didn't need any proof, but we'll take it for sure!

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1 comment:

  1. I was searching for the right word to describe my relationship with Mr Wilson (a rescue dog) and Synergy was dropped in my head thaks to your post. Great for Chicago, and thank you for the post, always a pleasue here.