From All in the Mind and Australian Broadcasting : Most of us have an intuitive feeling that our pet dogs or cats have thoughts and even feel emotions—but did you know that ants can teach, rats have a sense of humor, chimpanzees can deceive and elephants grieve? Scientists are discovering that animals’ cognitive and emotional processes are far more sophisticated than we once thought. Listen/Download the audio here.
On a rough day, Kiaya collapsed on the cold living room floor, unable to make it to her queen-sized dog bed.
Within minutes, her two “brothers” snuggled up on each side of her.
The sight brought tears to pet owner Jessica VanHusen’s eyes. That’s because life hasn’t been easy for the 10-year-old Akita, who lost both of her eyes to glaucoma over the course of 15 months.
Not only can the 100-pound dog not see, she also has a hard time walking — that is, without help from her “seeing eye dogs.”
The special needs dog didn’t have too much trouble adjusting to her new normal with 8-year-old Cass and 2-year-old Keller by her side. Without any commands, the dogs decided on their own to be her guides.
“The boys both respect her fully,” VanHusen told CBS News. “[They] allow her to eat first, they lean her up against the side of the car when we are traveling to stabilize her.”
Wherever Kiaya is, “middle-child” Cass is not far behind.
The dog has been by Kiaya’s side ever since her first eye was removed in July 2013. He would constantly follow her around in their backyard, standing next to her “blind side.”
“He became more attentive to her needs, leaning on her and cuddling,” VanHusen explained. “He even cleans her ears and face, where her eyes used to be.”
It took Keller a little longer. At less than 2 years old, the dog wasn’t fully attentive at first, VanHusen said, but he’s getting there.
“It’s amazing to watch,” Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners Ophthalmologist Dr. Gwen Sila, who performed Kiaya’s surgeries, said in a news release. “It’s clear the other dogs are trying to protect her. Their sense of loyalty is really remarkable.”
VanHusen said she has never considered training the pair to be service dogs. For now, they’ll just continue to take care of their sister, Kiaya, who turns 11 next month.
“She may be a special needs dog, but to us she’s just special,” VanHusen said. “When we ask her where her eyeballs went, she replies: ‘They’re in the garbage, I didn’t need them anymore.'”
With her brothers stepping in to assist her, that statement couldn’t be more true.
Nonverbal communication is a gift that all living beings share, one you’ll need to reawaken to better interact with and care for your animal companions. Most dog and cat lovers already understand canine and feline body language, which is one non-verbal technique. But you can use your other, natural, nonverbal communication skills, and actually begin to see things through your dog or cat’s eyes, and become his/her voice.
You can learn animal communication by taking a class or reading some of the great books available today on the subject. But many of the basics are so simple that we can easily begin nonverbally communicating right away. Remember, long before humans had spoken language, we were able to communicate among ourselves and with the animals; it is a kind of heart to heart communication skill that we all possess.
Did you ever know a set of twins who said they each knew what the other was thinking, or you heard your mother say she had “woman’s intuition” or “just knew something was wrong.” Have you ever had an image of a friend come to mind and then received a phone call from that very person saying, “I was just thinking about you and wanted to say hello”? These are all examples of nonverbal communication.
Interesting article about pets and how humans react/respond to them. From the abstract:
Neural substrates underlying the human-pet relationship are largely unknown. We examined fMRI brain activation patterns as mothers viewed images of their own child and dog and an unfamiliar child and dog. There was a common network of brain regions involved in emotion, reward, affiliation, visual processing and social cognition when mothers viewed images of both their child and dog. Viewing images of their child resulted in brain
activity in the midbrain (ventral tegmental area/substantia nigra involved in reward/affiliation), while a more posterior cortical brain activation pattern involving fusiform gyrus (visual processing of faces and social cognition) characterized a mother’s response to her dog. Mothers also rated images of their child and dog as eliciting similar levels of excitement (arousal) and pleasantness (valence), although the difference in the own vs. unfamiliar child comparison was larger than the own vs. unfamiliar dog comparison for arousal. Valence ratings of their dog were also positively correlated with ratings of the attachment to their dog. Although there are similarities in the perceived emotional experience and brain function associated with the mother-child and mother-dog bond, there are also key differences that may reflect variance in the evolutionary course and function of these relationships.
Stoeckel LE, Palley LS, Gollub RL, Niemi SM, Evins AE (2014) Patterns of Brain Activation when Mothers View Their Own Child and Dog: An fMRI Study. PLoS ONE 9(10): e107205. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107205
Dogs were the first non-human members of the human group. They are our original companions. The first animals we domesticated, they share a 40,000 year history with humans. To them humanity owes its very survival and evolution through enhanced meat acquisition dogs made possible via hunting, as a consequence of which humans grew physically and intellectually.
It was co-evolution of both species which shows up in the parent-child relationship between dog and human, as psychological research has recently uncovered. Only after the agrarian revolution when the importance of the dog to food acquisition declined did we see a loss of status of the dog.