Hi Guys & Gals, Ziggy here…
It has been a while since I have dictated a personal post, I apologize for that, but with all of the political drama going on, plus just plain old everyday life stuff, my hu-mom has been very busy.
That being said, I had a chance today to share with her what has been on my mind lately. She agreed to translate what I shared with her into this post.
**note: I have complete editorial control!**
We watched a fantastic “dogumentary” a few days ago, a PBS “Nova” program which was both informative and thought provoking, at least I found it to be. It is called “Dogs Decoded” originally aired in 2013.
I must say, from a purely canine perspective… finally, humans are realizing just how intelligent we dogs are!
There has been much debate within the human population about whether or not we dogs are able to think, feel, understand, reason and communicate with you.
Personally, I think it’s quite obvious but because we don’t speak with human words, this question has, up to now been unanswered. (from a scientific point of view)
I want to tell all of you humans that the question has finally been answered!
The fact that I now can state with scientific evidence to back me up, all of the things we dogs have been clearly demonstrating for countless generations makes me incredibly happy!
I will begin by sharing one of the incredible health benefits that humans receive just by sharing their lives with us. Scientists have now proven that the same hormone that is released between a mother and her newborn “Oxytocin” is released when a human and their dog are together!
(The following excerpts are from the transcript of “Dogs Decoded” a “Nova” documentary originally aired on PBS in 2013)
NARRATOR: Oxytocin has a powerful physiological effect. It can lower the heart rate and blood pressure and may lead to reduced levels of stress. Research indicates that owning a dog could even extend your life.
KERSTIN UVNíS-MOBERG: If you have a dog, you are much less likely to have a heart attack, and if you have a heart attack, you are three to four times more likely to survive it if you have a dog than if you don’t.
I would like to state for the record: We’ve known this for years!
Now, allow me to share with you where it all began, as well as our role in altering the course of human history:
NARRATOR: It’s hotly debated exactly when dogs were domesticated, but geneticists and archeologists agree on one thing: our relationship with dogs goes back thousands of years further than with any other pet.
It was a time when we were still hunter-gatherers.
PETER ROWLEY-CONWY: Dogs were certainly the first animal to be domesticated, and they fit into hunting and gathering societies probably better than any other species out there.
GREGER LARSON: At this stage, when we’re hunting and gathering and killing wild animals, after you finish with them, you’re creating a relatively large pile of bone and leftover meat, things that these wolves would have been very attracted to. Those wolves that were able to take advantage of that resource and were a little bit less afraid and could approach the human camp were then setting themselves up into a closer relationship with humans.
PETER ROWLEY-CONWY: We are carnivores; we are social carnivores. We hunt in groups, and we hunt in daylight. There are not many other species that do that. The wolf is a social carnivore that hunts by daylight, and, therefore, I think there’s natural potential for teamwork between those two species.
GREGER LARSON: We became much better hunters with dogs. We are more successfully taking down large game, which means we have more food to eat, which means we can have more offspring, which means the overall populations of humans grow.
NARRATOR: Dog domestication may have helped pave the way for a fundamental change in human lifestyle.
PETER ROWLEY-CONWY: It’s hard to see how early herders would have moved and protected and guarded their flocks without domestic dogs being in place. And one has to wonder whether agriculture would ever really have made it as a viable alternative to hunting and gathering.
NARRATOR: Some believe that the influence of dogs on our development was not just important but pivotal.
GREGER LARSON: Dogs absolutely turn the tables. Without dogs, humans would still be hunter gatherers, and without that initial starting phase of dog domestication, civilization just would not have been possible.
We truly are amazing creatures, aren’t we?
The following excerpts will prove that we are intelligent, that we reason, that we are able to communicate with you (if you pay attention to how we are communicating) and that we can understand what you say.
NARRATOR: We look at our dogs and we see an intelligence, an ability to interact with us, unlike any other domesticated animal. But are dogs really that clever, or are they just dumb animals taught to perform tricks that mimic human behavior?
FEMALE RESEARCH PARTICIPANT 1 (Mutt Owner): I think she is very smart. She learns tricks fairly quickly.
MAN 3: If I am packing a suitcase they will go and sit in the suitcase because they know that suitcase is going to go somewhere.
WOMAN 4: When I’m talking to him, most of the time, his little head usually jilts to the side, as if he knows what I’m saying.
MAN 2: I do talk to her, and she picks up on what I say to her. I know it sounds stupid, but I do actually have a conversation with my dog.
NARRATOR: So how does the intelligence of a dog compare in the animal kingdom? New research is discovering that, in certain ways, dogs may actually think more like us than any other animal, including our nearest relative, the chimpanzee.
Chimps have nothing on us (except opposing thumbs!)as you will find in the following excerpts:
JULIANE KAMINSKI: Of all the questions around the evolution of human cognition, of course people would focus in on chimps, quite naturally, and suddenly there were dogs doing something that not even chimps could do.
NARRATOR: Cognitive psychologist Juliane Kaminski compares chimps with dogs, in a series of revealing experiments. At Leipzig Zoo, Kaminski is testing chimps to see if they can understand human gestures, like pointing, to find a hidden treat.
As simple as it seems to us, even our nearest primate relatives fail the task miserably.
I must interject here with a “HA HA”! The chimps “failed the task MISERABLY.”
JULIANE KAMINSKI: She’s not really focusing on me, and she’s simply making her own choice. Most of the time, you can see that she makes a decision, long before I give my gesture. She doesn’t even wait for my information.
It’s such an uncooperative interaction, so it’s like really I’m providing information for her to find food, which is just simply something which would never happen in a chimp group, really. I mean a chimp wouldn’t go, like, “Oh, look, there’s the banana.” And then another chimp could go and get it.
NARRATOR: Since we’re the only species that makes this gesture, it would be remarkable if any animal could understand it. But dog owners take it for granted that their dogs respond to pointing.
JULIANE KAMINSKI: Good boy!
NARRATOR: For Kaminski, it’s proof of their extraordinary social intelligence.
Again, I will interject with a hearty: “HA HA!”
JULIANE KAMINSKI: If you really look at that gesture, it’s an informative gesture. So it’s, in its essence, a very cooperative interaction, so, I’m really helping you to find something. And for dogs, following, pointing seems to be very natural, and it makes dogs extremely interesting.
NARRATOR: In fact, dogs are so tuned in to our social cues, they can even pick up on something as subtle as the direction of our gaze.
Humans have unique almond-shaped eyes with exposed white sclera visible on each side.
JULIANE KAMINSKI: One hypothesis is that we have evolved those eyes because we use it for communication. So, really, with human eyes, you can really tell easily which direction I’m looking.
NARRATOR: But these aren’t skills that dogs use with each other. They are abilities dogs only use with us.
JULIANE KAMINSKI: I think it’s very, very easy to imagine that they develop special skills in interacting with humans, because that’s their new social partner, so they, kind of, learn to interpret human communication which is different from dog communication. So they, kind of, learn a second language. So you could probably say they are bilingual, yes.”
Did you read that? We are bi-lingual too! Woof!
NARRATOR: Dogs are primed to communicate with us, but just how smart are they? New research reveals their abilities extend way beyond what anyone thought.
Professor Kaminski has discovered a remarkable border collie, living in Austria, just outside Vienna. She’s conducted a series of experiments and is amazed at the dog’s intelligence.
JULIANE KAMINSKI: She can distinguish objects by name, which is really amazing. And she has, like, many, many words.
BETSY’S OWNER: Käse, das zebraâ¦
NARRATOR: With a vocabulary of over 340 words, Betsy is pushing the boundaries of what we think dogs are capable of.
B BETSY’S OWNER: carotte, sandwich.
NARRATOR: Betsy’s owner, who prefers to remain anonymous, explains how this all started.
BETSY’S OWNER: I think it was when she was four or five months old, when she spontaneously started to connect human words to items. When we were discussing shall we play with the rope or with the ball, she immediately started to bring those items. So it was actually her idea, and, from this time on, we started to really train her on different words. It was maybe one toy per week, and it worked.
JULIANE KAMINSKI: I think, on average, a well-trained dog maybe knows like fifteen commands or something. There are just a very few individuals who can do what she does.
I can tell that I can try it with my own dog and it doesn’t work at all. So he could maybe distinguish two objects; she is able to use it easily, more than 300 objects. That’s pretty amazing.
NARRATOR: Betsy’s understanding of vocabulary rivals that of a two-year-old, so Kaminski wants to test her comprehension on other skills, as well.
By the way, I am 1/2 Border Collie, not to brag or anything.
WOMAN 5 (Teacher of Two-Year-Olds): Can you go find me one of them, over there? Yeah?
NARRATOR: Two-year-olds are just beginning to understand how to use symbols, such as scale models, in communication. Though it looks easy, it requires abstract thinking way beyond the capability of almost all animals.
But would Betsy be able to do this, too?
BETSY’S OWNER: Ja. Ist gut.
JULIANE KAMINSKI: This was something the owners had never tried before, so when I came and I said I want to do this, they were really like, “Oh, no way, that’s not going to work.” I was the first one doing that with her, and she had no problem doing it, right from the beginning.
This is surprising, because, in its essence, if I hold out an object, she turns it into something communicative, and that’s so interesting.
NARRATOR: Children also begin to grasp that a drawing or photograph can depict a real object.
WOMAN 5: Thank you very much. Well done.
JULIANE KAMINSKI: In essence, the picture is something very different, as the object. So it’s a, it’s a piece of paper butâ¦and it’s two dimensionalâ¦but it’s representing something, so she obviously interprets that as representing an object, a three-dimensional object, and that’s so interesting that she does this. “I know exactly what you want. This is the one you want, and I’m going to go and get it for you.”
BETSY’S OWNER: Ja gut. Super braves, Madchen, gut gemacht, super.
NARRATOR: Kaminski is unsure how many dogs might have similar abilities, but Betsy has shown that certain dogs may have the potential to be more intelligent than we ever thought possible.
I particularly like the following excerpts, please pay special attention to what they say:
NARRATOR: For a pet that has been around so long, dog research is a surprising new area of science.
Experiments have shown what dog owners have always suspected: after thousands of years of living together, dogs are attuned to us like no other animal.
MAN 2: It’s a very important part of life to actually know a dog, and especially a dog that adores you like this. It’s got to be good for yourself.
FEMALE RESEARCH PARTICIPANT 1: It’s kind of impossible to have a bad day when you are coming home to a wet nose and a waggy tail, I think. I can’t imagine life without her.
WOMAN 3: It’s quite strange. We weren’t lacking anything before we had him, and yet, now, we would feel we were lacking if he wasn’t here.
MAN 1: They just enrich your life. They are the best thing ever. They keep you young.
NARRATOR: New research has taken our understanding of how dogs evolved to a whole new level, getting us closer to what exactly it means to be tame.
DANIEL MILLS: While we can have good relationships with a wide variety of animals, historically, our relationship with dogs seems to have been the longest one with any domestic animal.
GREGER LARSON: I think one reason that there are almost seven billion people on Earth is, in large part, due to the role that dogs have played in our evolutionary existence.
DANIEL MILLS: Personally, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the dog is referred to as man’s best friend.
Have a “woof-erful” day reader!
I’ll write again soon…Feel free to share your thoughts!