Joy. Sadness. Hope. Fear. Fairness. Compassion. Curiosity. Resentment. Jealousy. Anxiety. Embarassment. Remorse.
Despite those who will tell you dogs feel none of those — that they are solely motivated by hunger — evidence is mounting that dogs’ emotions run a gamut a lot like the gamut our’s run. (Damn gamut.)
Ten years ago, anyone arguing that dogs felt guilt or compassion would have been laughed out of the room — and accused of anthropomorphism once he was gone.
Today, as an article in the Denver Post points out, scientists are finally acknowledging what pet owners have suspected all along – that dogs have feelings too, a lot like our’s, probably as a result of all these years evolving under the same roof together.
“We’re not trying to elevate animals. We’re not trying to reduce humans. We’re not saying we’re better or worse or the same,” said animal behaviorist Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of the University of Colorado. “We’re saying we’re not alone in having a nuanced moral system.”
Bekoff, co-author of the newly released “Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals,” is convinced dogs animals possess empathy and compassion, the emotions upon which moral sense is built. “Dogs know they are dependent. They learn to read us,” Bekoff said. “Dogs develop this great sense of trust. We’re tightly linked, and there is something spiritual about that unity.”
These days, more scientists are following in Bekoff’s footsteps – Harvard University, for instance, recently opened a Canine Cognition Lab, where researchers seek insight into the psychology of both humans and dogs.
“The amount of skepticism has dramatically dropped,” Bekoff said.
You can find the full Denver Post article here.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, anthropomorphism, anxiety, behavior, canine cognition lab, compassion, dog, dogs, embarassment, emotions, empathy, evolution, evolving, fairness, fear, feel, feelings, harvard, hope, jealousy, joy, lives, marc bekoff, moral, pets, remorse, resentment, sadness, university of colorado
It doesn’t make for the most riveting viewing around, but lengthy video snippets of barking dogs are popping up all over YouTube, at least in part at the urging of a web site devoted to stamping out such nuisances.
Barkingdogs.net describes itself as ”the most comprehensive source on earth for information about chronic barking and the impact it has on human health.
“Whether your dog is barking disruptively, your neighbor’s dog is pushing you beyond your limits, or you are a governmental administrator looking for an abatement program that works, whatever it is you need to know about chronic barking and how to bring it to an end, you’ll find the answer here.”
An entire section of the web site is devoted to instructing frazzled neighbors of barking dogs on how to post videos of the misbehavior on YouTube.
“Uploading your digital footage to YouTube carries with it two distinct advantages. First, after you have completed your upload, you can include a link in any emails you might choose, so that the email recipient need only click on the link in order to launch their browser and see your neighbor’s dog, in all his glory, displayed in full color, barking furiously on their computer screen.
“That means that you can email the dog owner the footage of his dog barking. Or you can film yourself explaining why the problem needs to be resolved. Or you can show your neighbor and your city councilman and whoever else, how close the dog is to where your children are sleeping, and what the noise sounds like from inside their room.”
Often, the web site says, the very public display embarasses owners into solving the problem.
“Perhaps it is because seeing their dog online serves as convincing proof of the problem, and that causes them to feel some measure of guilt or vulnerability. Or maybe they are simply embarrassed to have their dog behaving badly on the internet for all the world to see.”
The web site also tells victims how to deal personally with the issue, from confronting the neighbor to when to bring police into the matter. It warns victims not to make threats, and not to let a barking dog’s owner know that their pooch is driving them crazy, even if it is.
“You must never ever tell anyone that you intend to harm yourself or anyone else, or even that you think that there is some possibility that such a thing might happen” the web site warns. “If you make a statement like that, especially to someone in a position of authority, you are likely to find that before the day is out, you will be committed and locked behind the doors of a closed mental institution for seventy-two hours of observation …”
In which case, you’re probably going to start barking.