They both killed dogs, then went on to even greater achievement, fame and fortune in their respective professions — Vick as an NFL quarterback, Otterness as an artist.
But both are still dogged by their pasts, and both seem to imply that’s wrong — that those who keep bringing up the dogs they killed should forgive and forget and let them get on with their lives.
Boo. Freakin’. Hoo.
Otterness, a Brooklyn artist who once shot and killed a dog and called it art, has just landed a $750,000 city art contract for the Central Subway in San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Examiner.
Vick, meanwhile, will have to subsist under the terms of the $100 million contract he recently signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In June, the board of directors of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency approved a contract with Otterness for 59 bronze sculptures for the proposed subway’s Moscone station. (The board was unaware of the incident in Otterness’ past — even though it has reared its ugly head several times before.)
“Tom Otterness is a world-renowned sculptor who has been commissioned by government agencies around the world to create major permanent public art projects,” Susan Pontious, who pilots the San Francisco Arts Commission’s public art program, said in a statement. “The Central Subway Artist Selection Panel chose Otterness based on the strength of his proposal and his impressive portfolio of past sculptural work.”
We can only guess Otterness doesn’t list his dog-shooting movie on the resume.
Otterness has repeatedly apologized for the 1977 film project. He was 25 when he bought a small black and white dog from an animal shelter, chained it to a fence and then shot it. He filmed it for a work entitled, “Shot Dog Film.”
But the artist, like the football player, has learned that — no matter how much remorse is expressed or, in Vick’s case, time is served — some people aren’t willing to let bygones be bygones when it comes to slaying dogs.
“You do not let an animal shooter put up 59 sculptures in your subway system,” said Anita Carswell, director of the Guardian Campaign for In Defense of Animals. “This is a slap in the face of the city. It’s going to be offensive to everybody that rides the subway, a reminder: ‘People who shoot dogs for stupid reasons get rewarded.’”
As Carswell noted, San Francisco is named after St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
In a recent New York Observer article, here’s how Otterness responded when the dog killing was brought up:
“What the f— do I do with this? Certainly the scene it was part of, it was in the context of the times and the scene I was in … It is something I’ve grown to understand that nothing really excuses that kind of action. I had a very convoluted logic as to what effect I meant to have with that video. Whatever I had in mind, it was really inexcusable to take a life in service of that.”
Posted by jwoestendiek September 19th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apologies, art, artist, contract, criticism, dogs, killed, killing, memory, michael vick, moscone station, past, pets, quarterback, remorse, san francisco, shelter, shot dog film, subway, tom otterness
In her soap opera persona, Julie Marie Berman — or Lulu on General Hospital — has engaged in some shameful behavior.
The daughter of Luke and Laura, she has stolen, lied, manipulated and, more than once, let her heart lead her astray, such as when, while still a “feisty teen,” she masterminded the break up of her stepbrother Dillon Quartermaine’s relationship, then proceeded to offer him her virginity, but the condom broke and things got even more compilcated.
I don’t think, though I don’t watch the show, she’s a bad person; but more of a good person who bad things happen, to — over and over and over. She’s had bombs strapped to her body, been a waitress in a brothel, been stuck under a beam in freezing water, and been abducted and held hostage repeatedly. I don’t think she has been in a coma yet — though her mother has — but give her time.
In real life, Julie admits to making at least one mistake, too — buying a dog online.
While dating her future husband, Mike Grady, they decided they wanted a dog. She ended up on “a huge web site that had, literally, every color imaginable of the breed I was interested in. I thought, ‘Great!’ So I ordered my dog online … then I got another one. The first one came with a lot of issues that we’re still dealing with today.
“I thought I was doing the right thing by not going to the pet store. But I think it is safe to say that I ordered our dogs right from the puppymill. I had no idea that I was doing that. I thought that because they were AKC registered, and I talked to the breeders on the phone, that everything was normal. But after receiving our dog, I started to question the validity of the breeder and the care that they give their animals.”
Julie and Mike educated themselves on the horrors of puppy mills, became proponents of adoption and are now pushing that cause in their newly formed company, Better Buddies.
Along with a third partner, they reached out to Best Friends Animal Society to join forces on ending the homeless pet problem and push adoption as the best choice when searching for a pet. The company has pledged 10 percent of its profits to the organization.
With its current merchandising limited to hemp dog beds, Better Buddies, Julie says, plans to expand — all while bringing together the worlds of design, quality, eco-awareness and social change.
“While rummaging through an endless stock of uninspired, low-quality pet toys, we found ourselves asking, ‘Why aren’t there more eco-friendly options out there?’ … Even more of a challenge, a pet-adoption in the store was begging us not to leave without adding another adorable, yet needy pet to our clan.
“And then it hit us…why not … make high-quality ‘green’ products that are actually thoughtful in design and style, while simultaneously giving back to animals in need. And right there, in that mess of pet store mania, Better Buddies, Inc. was born.”
Posted by jwoestendiek August 11th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: actress, adoption, animals, best friends, best friends animal society, better buddies, clean, dog, dog beds, dogs, donation, eco-friendly, environment, general hospital, green, hemp, homeless pets, internet, julie grady, julie marie berman, luke and laura, lulu, mike grady, online, pets, philanthropy, profits, puppy mills, purchase, remorse, shame, soap opera, social responsibility, star
I’ve never liked the open letter. It’s a cheap gimmick that allows the writer to pretend to be writing to someone when you’re really taking aim at them. It’s a feeble attempt to get the attention of someone who neither knows who you are, nor cares what you have to say. It lets you, the writer, ride on their celebrity while you make a point, ostensibly to them, but really to the world. Open letters are highly presumptuous, and a little rude.
Nevertheless, Dear Michael Vick …
I see an opportunity for you.
This pertains your former property at 1915 Moonlight Road in Surry County, Virginia — the one that’s now headed to serve a purpose far different than the one for which you used it.
As you may have read, or not, your former house, the headquarters of your former Bad Newz Kennels, the home you forfeited after your conviction for dogfighting, has been purchased by a group called Dogs Deserve Better.
They plan to turn it into a $2.5 million center to rehabilitate and rehome dogs that have been abused — tied, chained, penned, or forced to take part in dogfighting. (At this point, were this one of those catty open letters, I would have added “an activity with which you are familiar.” But this really is more sincere than catty.)
From a writer’s standpoint, not to mention a reader’s, it’s a pretty wondrous development in the long-running story that, as you know, just won’t go away.
You should get in on it. You should donate some money to the project — if not to assuage any guilt you might still be feeling, then for image reasons alone, and image, these days, is everything.
To build its $2.5 million center, Dogs Deserve Better needs, well, about $2.5 million. They’ve made the down payment, but there is still lots of work to be done and money to be raised.
That’s where you come in, or could if you wanted to — giving the story one more serendipitous twist.
I know you served your time. I know you paid (and are still paying) your debt. I know your fans, and maybe you, think that gives you a clean slate — but a slate is hard to truly get clean once it has been tainted with blood, be it that of humans or dogs.
You have a lot of haters, myself included. I’ve bashed you before and I’ll probably bash you again — it’s easy to do that from afar, while hiding behind the protective gear of a blog. Though I’m a forgiving sort generally, I’m one of those people who can’t forget what you did with dogs. I’m also one of those people who stopped being a Philadelphia Eagles fan when they hired you, and, in the few games I watched, rooted for you to get sacked, even painfully so. (I did not like that I was doing that.)
Animal lovers, despite all their warmhearted, do-gooding tenderness, can be a pretty vengeful lot, and you permanently alienated them.
Even the work you are doing with the Humane Society of the United States in its anti-dogfighting campaign isn’t enough to change their minds about you. They probably never will. But by kicking in some money to rehabilitate dogs, you might make them, at least, think twice.
It would make a far deeper and more lasting impression than your HSUS appearances. I commend you for those, but, in all honesty and no offense, you don’t come across as all that remorseful. You don’t excel at appearing sincere. Besides, it’s just talk, and talk is cheap.
I realize that, despite your huge NFL salary, your money these days isn’t exactly your money — that you don’t have much to throw around, what with your debts and your lawyers and your agents. My understanding is you’re pretty much living on an allowance, and that endorsements, which dried up after your conviction, are few. This could help with that, too.
News that Michael Vick had chipped in to build a center to rehabilitate animals on his former property — and I’d suggest you do it in a low key, non-trumpeting kind of way — would do wonders for your image.
Since you’re still getting your finances back in shape, I think it would be great if the Philadelphia Eagles, and the NFL, chipped in as well, perhaps doubling or tripling the amount you might be able to come up with.
I’m aware it was you who, willing or not, footed the bill for your former dogs to make miraculous recoveries and find themselves in loving homes. There are pieces of the whole story of you and dogfighting that, horrendous as it is, are also inspiring. You could add another inspiring element – you could quell, but likely not erase, the wrath of dog lovers who hate you. Animal welfare types can be a self-righteous bunch — and persistent as linebackers. You may never have them on your team.
But a donation would give them pause, and perhaps a modicum of respect for you. They might see it as a sign — to some it might seem the first one — that you are truly sorry. Money usually can’t buy forgiveness, but it can soften the sharp edges.
I won’t be so presumptuous as to suggest an amount, and, I’m not even sure Dogs Deserve Better would take your money. I am in no way affiliated with the organization, other than having written about it a time or two. But they seem to mean well.
Support from you, the Eagles and the NFL — on top of all it would do for your image, and football’s — would help the organization accomplish its mission: Establishing the Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.
Out with the bad, in with the good. Get it?
In closing, I apologize for the openness of this letter, and for sticking my nose in your business. But in a world where bad news is the norm, chances to make some good news – and to make some good happen — should be considered, if not jumped on immediately.
It’s just a thought.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abused, adoption, animal welfare, animals, atonement, bad newz kennels, center, chained, dear michael vick, dogs, dogs deserve better, donate, football, fundraising, good newz rehab center, house, hsus, letter, michael vick, mistreated, moonlight road, nfl, open letter, penned, pets, philadelphia eagles, rehabilitation, remorse, request, rescue, shelter, surry county, vick
Remember Denver, the guilty, oh-so-guilty, looking yellow lab that was captured on video by her owner while she was being interrogated in the case of the missing cat treats?
We suggested — partly in jest — that she might be innocent, that appearances can be deceiving, not to mention misinterpreted, and that, just maybe, the cat did it.
Now — with the video having gone viral, with dog and owner having appeared on the ABC’s Good Morning America, with a line of “guilty dog” merchandise having been spawned — there’s more reason to believe that Denver might have been wrongly convicted. How guilty one looks and how guilty one is are two different things — especially when it comes to dogs.
Guilt, research shows, may be just another human emotion that dog owners anthropomorphically ascribe to dogs.
And all those behaviors Denver exhibited – avoiding eye contact, lying down, rolling into a submissive position, dropping the tail, holding down the ears or head, raising a paw – are more likely triggered by the owner’s semi-scolding tones than any feelings of “remorse.”
This reminder/revelation comes from someone who knows, who did her master’s dissertation on this very topic, and who produces one of my new favorite blogs, Dog Spies.
Julie Hecht is a New York-based behavioral researcher who has worked with Patricia McConnell and Alexandra Horowitz. She wrote her dissertation at the University of Edinburg on “Anthropomorphism and ‘guilty’ behavior in the dog,” and did her research with the Family Dog Project in Budapest, Hungary. She recently started Dog Spies, which focuses on the science behind dog behaviors and the dog-human relationship, and she divides her time between research, lecturing, blogging and working with individual pet owners.
As was my goal (plug alert) in my recently published book, “DOG, INC: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend,” she attempts to take the boring out of science, thereby making it interesting and understandable. “Scientific journals should be titled, ‘Lots of great information within, a tad boring to read!’ Dog Spies translates that information and shares it with you,” reads the introduction to her blog.
Judging from her “guilty dog” blog entry — and you know its trustworthy, because it has footnotes – Denver’s appearance, with her owners, on the ABC morning show raised her hackles a bit.
“According to the dictionary, ‘news’ is ‘information about recent events or happenings.’ I did not see any news during that morning show. Instead, I saw a bunch of morning personalities throwing out assumptions and offering the audience pleasing banter and humorous judgments about dogs. They provide no real information or ‘news’ about what happened to the cat treats.”
Here Hecht has hit on one of my pet peeves — pun definitely not intended. Rather than shedding some light, doing some research, and furthering our understanding of canines, the ABC segment — like so much of what the media, blogs included, feed us about dogs — was the kind of cutesy, substance-free fluff that reinforces misinformation and misunderstanding.
Like most everyone else, the smiling morning show hosts concluded Denver must have eaten the cat treats. When shown the empty bag and asked, “Did you do this?” Denver displays squinting eyes, averts her head and makes a highly laughable presentation of her teeth.
Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
Or maybe not.
Hecht cites a 2008 research paper that says 74 percent of dog owners attribute guilt to dogs, and believe dogs know when they have done something owners disapprove of. But scientific research shows that it’s not knowledge of a misdeed, or remorse, that leads to the guilty look, but an owner’s scolding. (See the New York Times piece, “It’s an Owner’s Scolding That Makes a ‘Guilty’ Dog.”)
Or, see this — a video Hecht made that shows a dog named Gidget being falsely accused:
As Alexandra Horowitz, author of “Inside of a Dog,” once put it: “We’ve trained them that when they see us angry, they give us that guilty look. I’m not saying they don’t feel guilt … I can’t test that yet. But we generate the context that prompts them to produce this look.
Why then, in the guilty dog video gone viral, does Denver show these behaviors when the other, presumed innocent family dog, Masey, does not?
“Research finds that even post-transgression, not all dogs show the ‘guilty look’ in the presence of a non-scolding owner,” Hecht says. And, transgressions aside, it might be the simple fact that Denver is a more expressively submissive dog, according to Hecht, who says part two of her entry on the “guilty dog look” will be appearing soon on her blog.
Why do dogs show what appears to be a guilty look more so than do their progenitors, wolves?
“Dogs have, for the most part, incredibly malleable and expressive faces (much more so than, say, cats) and from this, we can often see the subtleties of their eyebrows going down or up or their wide forward-facing eyes, becoming wider. All of these things could impact how humans attribute mental states to dogs,” Hecht told me.
My theory is there’s more at play — though maybe I’m giving dogs more intellectual credit than they deserve. I think mastering the guilty look is another way dogs have evolved since their domestication, and to cope with their domestication — part of their ongoing adaption to pethood. By showing submission, some of them may have have figured out, they can keep the peace, and maybe even get a belly rub or a Milkbone.
To me, the even more interesting question, when it comes to “the guilty look,” is whether, even before the scolding comes, dogs can sense it’s about to. Before a word comes out of the owner’s mouth, before an angry stance is even taken, can dogs sense that some displeasure is churning within us?
I, without any research or footnotes to back me, believe so. My scientific explanation for this: It’s magic.
Dogs are figuring us out. Which, until recent years, is maybe more than they could say about us. We’ve always been more concerned with their brawn than their brain, more concerned with their beauty than their behavior. It’s man’s hand that has led to the vast diversity of shapes and sizes in dogs. And while breeders have begun to put a higher priority on temperament, it can still be argued that appearance is placed above all else.
Could it be, in their way – without the aid of microscopes, opposable thumbs or access to our pedigrees – dogs are looking more deeply into us than we are into them? Could it be, during their time in domestication, dogs, as a species, have amassed a wealth of knowledge on how to best get along with humans, and have become even better at doing so than humans?
I think there’s more at work than breeding and genetics and instinct when it comes to dog behavior. An ongoing and not fully understood evolution is at play in the dog-human relationship. And that is the reason – all those unanswered questions about behavior, coupled with those we wrongly assume we know the answers to – why dog blogs of substance, like Hecht’s, are important.
At the same time, though, I rue the day when our understanding of dog behavior is complete — when we can explain every act of dog as stemming from some lingering instinct, or adaptation to their domestication. For then the magic will be gone.
I want all three — my science, my magic and my dog. Does that make me greedy?
Posted by jwoestendiek April 27th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abc, adaptation, alexandra horowitz, animals, anthropomorphism, appearances, behavior, cat treats, cognition, coverage, denver, dog, dog inc., dog spies, dog-human, dogs, dogs guilty look, domestication, emotions, feelings, good morning america, guilt, guilty, guilty look, humans, inside of a dog, instinct, julie hecht, looks, media, morning show, news, patricia mcconnell, pets, relationship, remorse, scolding, submission, submissive, video, viral
Apparently, there was no need to even question the cat after this yellow lab, in the view of his owner, all but confessed to the crime — getting into the cat treat bag.
For all those who say dogs don’t feel guilt, or something closely akin to it, explain this reaction.
Based on it, Denver, the yellow lab who is the second to be interrogated, is sent to the pen — though I would point out the evidence was entirely circumstantial, there was no DNA testing, he was never read his rights and he received no trial before a jury of his peers.
We hope his sentence was a short one.
And we still think it’s possible the cat did it.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 20th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, appearances, cat, cat treats, cats, circumstantial, confession, crime, denver, detective, dogs, evidence, funny, golden retriever, guilt, guilty, investigation, lie to me, macy, pets, remorse, showing, suspects, treats, trouble, truth, video, yellow lab
The attempted reinvention of Michael Vick continues tonight with the premiere of BET’s “Michael Vick Project” — a quasi-documentary that focuses on his alleged redemption and glosses over the horrors he perpetrated on dogs.
As its name implies, the show stars Michael Vick, who, up to now at least, has been less than convincing in the role of the remorseful, regretful and rehabilitated fighter of dogs who managed to resecure a multi-million contract as an NFL quarterback.
The word on the show is it focuses little, and then only superficially, on the evils he committed — as has been the case with his appearances at schools and before youth groups on behalf of the Humane Society of the United States.
Those appearances, the TV show, and his Ed Block Courage Award — all focusing on Michael Vick’s travails, Michael Vick’s ”bravery,” Michael Vick’s struggle, Michael Vick’s “redemption” — are only reinforcing the concept that one can get away with murder, or at least end up sitting pretty afterwards, at least when the perpetrator is a quarterback and the victims are dogs.
At this point, let me say that I’m all for rehabilitation, and all for second chances. In the eight years I reported about and hung out with prisoners — murderers even — I came to know, trust and, in a few cases, even respect many of them. I’m not a throw away the key kind of guy.
But allowing a convict to return to society is one thing. Seeing him return to the NFL, giving him a TV show, and topping it off with a “courage award” based on — what? — are quite another.
Michael Vick has every right to pursue and obtain those things. I’m not saying he should be banned from reaping riches, or anything else, with the possible exception of dog ownership — only that it turns my stomach to watch it all, and to watch the masses not just accept it, but throw their support behind him.
Yes, he served his time. Yes, he has a right to make a living. Yes, he can throw a football. But as for his choreographed image makeover, I’m not buying it – based on the comments he has made and his seemingless emotionless demeanor. I’ve yet to see any remorse in his face, and I’ve heard far more, from him, about his suffering than that of his dogs.
There’s no question he — and many others — are putting a lot of work into redeeming his image, but that’s different from redeeming oneself.
In an a radio interview with Dan Patrick this week to promote the TV show (it premieres tonight at 10 on BET), Vick was asked if he would still be fighting dogs if he hadn’t been caught.
“That’s the scary thing,” Vick responded. “I think about it. I would have continued to put my life in jeopardy. From a distance I would have still been involved.”
James DuBose, CEO of Dubose Entertainment, which is producing the Michael Vick Project, said, ”We hope his story will be one in which years from now, people particularly young men, will view and learn valuable lessons from.”
My fear – given that in the year since he completed his less than two-year prison sentence he’s been signed up as Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, given a TV show and will be honored in March with an award – is that those lessons may not be the right ones.
Posted by jwoestendiek February 2nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bet, dan patrick, documentary, dog, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, editorial, image, michael vick, michael vick project, opinion, redemption, remorse, series, television, tv, vick
Michael Vick’s “handlers” approached the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals about conducting anti-dogfighting work with the organization, but was turned down, according to an ASPCA press release issued Friday.
“This organization and I personally have seen the acts of cruelty committed by Mr. Vick first hand — acts so heinous that the public has never laid witness to them,” Ed Sayres, president and CEO of the ASPCA said in a prepared statement.
Noting that the ASPCA helped process evidence that led to Vick’s 18-month imprisonment, Sayres condemned Vick’s return to the NFL and his signing with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Today, it is difficult to see him in the uniform of a Philadelphia Eagle because of the startling lack of judgment and moral character he has demonstrated over the past several years. It is questionable whether he will have any credibility as an educator on the dog fighting issue.”
Vick has teamed up with the Humane Society of the United States to campaign against dogfighting.
The ASPCA statement was prompted by Vick’s interview last week on 60 Minutes:
Here is the press release in its entirety.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, anti-dogfighting, apsca, campaign, dogfighting, ed sayres, hsus, humane society of the united states, michael vick, nfl, philadelphia eagles, remorse
My most favorite football team is now my least favorite football team: The Philadelphia Eagles have signed Michael Vick to a two-year contract.
The Philadelphia Eagles signed the disgraced quarterback — who just months ago completed his 18-month sentence for dogfighting — to a one-year deal with an option for a second year, ESPN reports.
“I think everybody deserves a second chance,” Vick said Friday, a day after signing the deal, according to the Associated Press. “We all have issues, we all deal with certain things and we all have our own set of inequities. I think as long as you are willing to come back and do it the right way and do the right things and that you’re committed, then I think you deserve it. But you only get one shot at a second chance, and I am conscious of that.”
Angry fans brought dogs and waited outside the team’s practice facility, carrying signs and banners to display their outrage.
“How could they sign Michael Vick?” said Mark Pascetta of Ridley Township. “They are supposed to be a character team. We don’t need him.”
Within hours of the announcement, Michael Vick Eagles jerseys were on sale — everywhere from the NFL’s website to that of CBS — and calls for a boycott of the Eagles were being mounted on Facebook and other websites.
Vicks will earn $1.6 million under the first year of the contract, with the second-year option worth $5.2 million. Vick can also earn an additional $3 million in incentives over the two years of the contract, ESPN reported.
The Eagles were reportedly not the first team to extend an offer to Vick. Fox Sports reported that the Cincinnati Bengals first offered Vick a two-year deal worth about $2.3 million.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 14th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, boycott, contract, conviction, dogfighting, dogs, eagles, football, humane society, killed, michael vick, nfl, outrage, pennsylvania, peta, philadelphia, philadelphia eagles, remorse, sentence, sign, tortured, vick
Michael Vick left prison and is headed home today — and he hopes to team up with the Humane Society of the United States in a program aimed at eradicating dogfighting among urban teens.
HSUS President Wayne Pacelle said Tuesday that he recently met with Vick at the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan., and that Vick, who requested the meeting, wants to work with the group once he’s out of federal custody, according to Sports Illustrated.
Vick is returning to Hampton, Virginia, where he will serve the final two months of his 23-month prison sentence for dogfighting under home confinement. Vick is expected to be released to supervised probation July 20 after receiving two months off his term for good behavior.
“He indicated that he’s tremendously remorseful about this, and now he wants to be an agent of change, to work to end dogfighting and to specifically get young kids to cease any involvement in these activities,” Pacelle said.
“Sometimes folks who are reformed can be particularly strong advocates,” Pacelle said, adding the Vick would be expected to do more than simply record anti-dogfighting public service announcements. “We agree that he’s got to put boots on the ground and hit the issue hard and do it over a long time.”
Pacelle elaborates on the unlikely alliance today on his blog, Humane Nation.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 20th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: advocate, anti-dogfighting, campaign, commissioner, dogfighting, federal prison, football, home confinement, hsus, humane society, image, leavenworth, meeting, michael vick, nfl, prison, quarterback, release, released, remoreseful, remorse, return, roger goodell, sentence, virginia, wayne pacelle
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