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Tag: see

Why is it always Jesus and dogs we think we see in toast, wood, grilled cheese, etc.?

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A recent photo posted to Twitter — of a dog’s image in a piece of wood — gets me to thinking: Why is almost always Jesus (or sometimes his mom) and dogs (or sometimes other animals) that show up in inanimate objects, i.e. inside wood, on grilled cheeses, in potato chips, Cheetos, peirogies, tortillas or cinnamon buns?

lincolnnuggetThe answer’s pretty easy: We tend to see what we want to see; we tend to see the things we love most.

There are exceptions to the Jesus and dogs rule — potatoes that look like George Washington, chicken nuggets that resemble Abraham Lincoln — but even then it’s commonly what we cherish most (such as beloved presidents) that we think we see.

Chris Blundell recently posted the image at the top of this post on his Twitter page.

There, it was quickly joined by more reader submitted photos of dogs in wood:

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moredogwoodThat dogs are giving Jesus a run for his money — in terms of making appearances in wood, at least — says something about how the species has become ever more ingrained in our hearts.

I won’t sink to pointing out what dog spelled backwards is, but I’ll say this:

If Jesus showed up on my grilled cheese, I’d eat it anyway. If there was a dog visible in my wood paneling, on the other hand, I wouldn’t paint over it.

With the rise of social media, we’re seeing much more of this type of thing.

But it has always gone on — so much so that there are names for it.

Pareidolia is seeing (or hearing) something significant in a random image or sound. The word is derived from the Greek words para, meaning something faulty, and the noun eidōlon, meaning image, form or shape.

Sightings of spiritual or religious images in objects are called simulacra.

ebay-virgin-mary-grilled-cheese-getty-128167414Those are the most famous, and the most often reported — the faces and or bodies of Jesus or the Virgin Mary having been perceived, by both believers and non-believers, in toast, frying pans, grilled cheese sandwiches, the facade of buildings, firewood, rocks, tortillas, cinnamon buns, pretzels and more.

By the way, that grilled cheese Virgin Mary, seen directly above (some people thought the image more closely resembled Bernadette Peters) went on to sell on eBay in 2004 for $28,000.

jesusordogJesus, too, has been seen in grilled cheese sandwiches, including this one — though when I look at it, I see a dog. (Then again, I’m the guy who spent countless hours during my year-long road trip with Ace, looking for the image of dogs in kudzu.)

It’s really nothing to be ashamed of, this spotting of things within other things. To the contrary, I think those who spot them, while they might not be blessed with eternal life, are blessed with an active imagination. They are able to look at clouds and see something else entirely.

Leonardo da Vinci wrote about pareidolia, saying this: “If you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills.”

Georgia O’Keefe used it in her paintings of flowers, embedding hidden images that more often than not left us feeling guilty for having dirty minds.

Psychologists used it with their Rorschach tests, which had us interpret random inkblots that more often than not left us feeling guilty for having dirty minds.

Then again, we tend to see in random objects the things we long for, the things that make us happy.

There are exceptions to that as well. Some hated and feared faces have been spotted in objects over the years — with Satan being the most common.

But far more often we see something that soothes us, like dogs, something that gives us hope, like dogs, something that makes us smile, like dogs.

So, if you’re seeing things within things, don’t rush to a shrink. Don’t join a pareidolia support group. Instead, celebrate and savor your pareidolia — whether it be through pieces of wood, your morning toast or with those fluffy white clouds dancing like … you name it … across a deep blue sky.

(Photos: Twitter, Wikipedia, Imgur)

How dogs see the world

1dogvisionA new app lets you see the world — or at least photos of the world — through a dog’s eyes.

All you have to do is upload a photo and wait as the app translates your clear and colorful image into a fuzzy, less bright and less colorful version.

The app is called Dog Vision, and this link takes you straight to the image processing tool.

A dog’s vision is similar to what a human with red-green color blindness sees.

Dogs don’t see as clearly as we do. They have less sensitivity to brightness. And they don’t see shades of grey — not 50 or even 10. All greys, to them, look the same. Because they have only two types of cones (unlike our three) their color vision is limited.

As a result, an Autumn scene like this:

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Looks more like this:

2autumn

And a colorful image of Mardi Gras like this:

1mardigras

Is seen by them like this:

2mardigras

(Photos: Business Insider)

How a dog sees a rainbow

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Dogs aren’t truly color blind, but they do see a lesser range of hues than humans do.

They may have better hearing than us, and be far superior to us at sniffing things out, but when it comes to seeing rainbows they don’t have as much to get excited about as we do.

Dogs have only two types of cone cells, which are responsible for color vision, enabling them to see blue and yellow — and their various mixes.

Most of us humans have three different types of cone cells, allowing us to see red, green and blue, and all combinations of those colors.

As this graphic from the Washington Post’s Wonkblog shows, dogs miss out on reds and oranges and generally enjoy a less vivid spectrum of colors.

rainbow

But before you start feeling superior, consider that we’re probably not seeing all there is to see in a rainbow, either.

Butterflies may have up to five cone receptors, while the mantis shrimp has 12. They are fluttering around, or swimming around, seeing colors we’ve never seen.

(Imagine what a butterfly shrimp might see, if it weren’t breaded and fried.)

Quick science lesson: Colors are just different wavelengths of visible light, so the color of an object depends on what kinds of light it absorbs and reflects. What bounces back and hits our eyes is processed by our brain. Then and only then can we pronounce that the sky is blue, or that the dress is black and blue, or white and gold.

dressHumans on the Internet (which are slightly different than humans) recently spent weeks debating whether a dress shown in a picture was blue with black fringe, or white with gold fringe.

And everyone of them — unlike shrimp, butterflies and dogs — was absolutely sure that what they saw was right.

While other species may have more finely honed senses of smell, sight and sound, we humans have a much more refined sense of smugness, and we lead all species when it comes to the senses — or are they sins? — of pride, envy and greed.

That’s why,  when it comes to rainbows, many of us are most concerned with the pot of gold (or is it blue?) that’s at the end of it.

I’ve given up on finding that, but I would, just once, like to see a rainbow as a butterfly does.

As for that dress, the fact that its color was more debated by women than men isn’t too surprising.

Not only are women less affected by colorblindness (because the genes encoding red and green receptors are located on the X-chromosome, of which men only have one and women have two), but they also have a higher potential of being “tetrachromats” – people with four types of color receptor cells instead of three.

Though the evidence remains inconclusive, some researchers believe this fourth receptor allows tetrachromats to see a wider range of colors.

I’m not sure if consensus was ever reached in the great dress debate, and I don’t really care.

But if you simply must have a final answer, ask a shrimp.

(Photos: Ace at Salvation Mountain in California, by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!; graphic from the Washington Post; photo of dress from ABC News)

Inside of a Dog

Your dog licks your face because he loves you, right?

Ah, if it were only that simple.

There are those that will assure you that yes, those licks mean affection — your “fur babies” are showering you with, in addition to a little slobber, love and gratitude.

There are also those more scientific types who will dissect the act so emotionlessly as to leave you never wanting another lick again — or perhaps even another dog, or at least not another dog book.

Thank Dog, then, for Alexandra Horowitz, who in her new book “Inside of a Dog,” manages to  probe doggie behavior  in a manner both scientific and passionate, without stomping on the sanctity of the human-dog bond like it’s a cigarette in need of extinguishing.

The book’s title comes from the Groucho Marx quote:  “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

Inside-of-a-Dog-coverWhat makes “Inside of a Dog,” released in September, one of the best dog books of the year is that it’s not too dark to read. Horowitz, a psychology professor, former staff member at The New Yorker, and long-time dog-lover is able — based in equal parts on her scientific research and her own personal experiences as a dog owner — to correct the many misconceptions about dogs without snuffing out the special light we see inside them.

As for those face licks, they have an evolutionary basis — it originally was a way for pups to encourage their moms and dads to regurgitate what they had eaten while hunting, thus sharing their prechewed bounty.

That doesn’t mean your dog is trying to make you puke everytime it licks your face, only that what’s now a ritualized greeting began that way.

The book gets to the root of other canine behaviors, as well, including:

· How dogs tell — and actually smell — time.

· Why it’s been futile leaving your television on for your dog all these years (and why this may be different now).

· How your dog really feels about that raincoat you make him wear.

· Why some dogs joyfully retrieve tossed balls and sticks while others just stare at you like you’re a fool for throwing them.

While not a training manual, it’s a book every dog trainer should read, and perhaps every dog owner who wants to truly understand not just what their pet means to them, but what their pet means.

The book goes into how dogs see, smell and hear the world, what their barks mean, what their tail wags mean. And it avoids the common oversimplifications associated with seeing dogs solely in terms of human behavior, or seeing them solely as modern-day wolves.

Horowitz, and the book, show some appreciation and understanding of the evolutions that have taken place, and continue to — the evolution of dogs, the evolution of humans, and the evolution of the bond between the two.

(Learn more about the latest dog books at ohmidog’s book page, Good Dog Reads.)

Vick declines offer to visit his former dogs

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BAD RAP, the California pit bull advocacy group, invited Michael Vick to visit  eight of his former dogs this weekend when the Philadelphia Eagles are in town to play the Oakland Raiders.

Vick declined the offer.

BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls) told the Associated Press on Wednesday that it extended the invitation through the Eagles to Vick last week.

Tim Racer, BAD RAP co-founder, said the group picked a location that would have allowed Vick to view the dogs from behind a window at a distance — thus satisfying the conditions of Vick’s parole that bar him from being near animals.

Racer said the Eagles informed him Wednesday that Vick would decline the offer.

“We understand Vick is trying to right his wrongs and is very interested in redemption, but you can’t find redemption without acknowledging your victims,” Racer said. “Making amends to the dogs themselves would have helped to create some closure for many of us, especially those people who worked so hard to keep them from being destroyed. It seems that Vick is not ready to go there.”

Oakland-based BAD RAP took in 10 of  the dogs that were part of  Vick’s dogfighting operation at Bad Newz Kennels in southeastern Virginia.

(Photo: Ernie was among the dogs seized from Michael Vick. He was adopted by Andy and Sasha Gibbs. Courtesy of BAD RAP)