They haven’t saddled them up and landed them gigs at halftime shows, but a group of baboons in Saudi Arabia are reportedly “keeping dogs as pets.”
And, if this video is any indication, the baboons, like humans, can be alternately cruel and loving when it comes to the dogs with whom they co-exist, in this case in a garbage dump outside of Ta’if, not far from the Red Sea.
While the baboons seem to treat pups, or at least the unfortunate one in the beginning of this video, pretty roughly, rest assured nothing too awful happens, and the video goes on to show the two species living, playing and sleeping together, and even grooming each other.
The clip is from a British nature series called “Animals Like Us.”
It came to my attention via Hal Herzog, author of “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard To Think Straight About Animals.”
Herzog, a professor of psychology at Western Carolina University, has been studying human interactions with other species for two decades — and says he has never run across a species other than humans that truly can be described as keeping pets. So he was stunned when he came upon the video of the Hamadryas baboons and what seem to be their pet dogs.
At least that’s how the documentary’s narrator explains the relationship. The baboons and dogs eat and sleep together, and travel as a pack. The dogs chase off predators and the baboons treat them as members of the family, he says.
Herzog, as he explains in Animals and Us, his blog for Psychology Today, doesn’t seem to totally buy it. He did some quick research, but thinks a lot more is needed before being certain the dogs and baboons of Ta’if have a pet-and-petkeeper relationship.
“In short, are the Ta’if baboons really keeping dogs as their personal pets or is the YouTube clip just another example of Animal Planet type TV bullshit?
“… Some authorities are doubtful. The anthrozoologist Boria Sax, author of the wonderful new book City of Ravens, wrote … ‘You can’t tell just what is happening from the video alone, and we have only the word of the narrator that the dogs are kept as pets. I am skeptical.’
“Eniko Kubinyi, a canine ethologist at the Family Dog Project in Budapest was more blunt, ‘Dogs as pets of baboons? Science fiction. Baboons and dogs share the same environment, and they are socially plastic, so they enjoy the company of others…’
“I am skeptical, too,” Herzog said. “But I have been obsessed by the video for a week. It raises a host of questions in my mind.”
Might the relationship, for example, be less peaceful if there wasn’t abundant food for all in their shared environment, he wonders.
I wonder whether the baboons use any positive reinforcement to keep the dogs in line, or, as the early part of the video indicates, they opt for the dominant, Millan-esque, pack-leader approach.
Desolate as the landscape looks, the connection between the baboons and dogs in a desert garbage dump seems some fertile ground for research.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 27th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, animals and us, animals like us, baboons, behavior, chimps, dogs, dump, environment, hal herzog, humans, interaction, monkeys, nature, pet-keeping, petkeeping, pets, psychology, psychology today, saudi arabia, shared, some we eat, some we hate, some we love, species, ta'if, video, youtube
An eight-year-old beagle named Ginger now lives part-time at Renaissance Gardens, the assisted living/skilled nursing facility located at Riderwood, where she visits residents, serves as an icebreaker and, just maybe, is lowering some blood pressures as well.
Ginger’s new mission came out of a pet-sitting arrangement between friends. Karen Spicer, a Community Resources Coordinator at Riderwood who lives in Ellicott City, started taking care of Ginger four years ago, whenever Ginger’s family went on vacation.
It was Ginger’s mom who came up with the idea of sharing the beagle, who now spends part of the time as a pet with her family in Catonsville, part of it with Spicer in Ellicott City, and part of it at Riderwood.
Spicer picks up Ginger, who recently completed her orientation to be a Pets on Wheels dog, on the first Sunday of the month and drops her back home on the third Sunday of the month.
Ginger, according to Spicer, is sweet, compliant and unusually obedient and quiet for a beagle. “She loves to tell people that they are great,” said Spicer. “She is great company for me. I am a better person for having her.”
(Photo: Courtesy of Erickson Living)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 12th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, assisted living, beagle, catonsville, dog, dogs, ellicott city, erickson living, ginger, karen spicer, maryland, nursing, pets, pets on wheels, renaissance gardens, retirement, riderwood, senior, shared, shared dog, silver spring, therapy dog
Maryland law — apparently one written back in medieval times — requires that a divorcing couple that can’t agree on who should get custody of the family dog sell the dog like any other disputed marital property, and then split the proceeds.
Fortunately, that resolution didn’t seem right to a judge in Calvert County, Maryland, who instead ordered a divorcing couple to split the custody of their dog, Lucky.
Retired Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Graydon S. McKee III made the decision last month in the case of Gayle and Craig Myers, the Associated Press reported.
The judge, presiding over the limited-divorce proceeding by special assignment, decided last month that the childless couple should split custody of Lucky, meaning every six months the dog will back and forth.
“It was very clear that both of them love this dog equally,” McKee said. “The only fair thing to do was to give each one an equal chance to share in the love of the dog.”
Posted by jwoestendiek July 8th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, couple, craig myers, custody, dispute, divorce, dog, dogs, gayle myers, graydon s. mckee III, law, lucky, marriage, maryland, news, ohmidog!, pets, shared, split
After three years of litigation and $40,000 in legal fees, who gets Dexter — a six-year-old pug at the center of a New Jersey custody case — has been decided.
Dexter, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, will be shared.
Under a New Jersey Superior Court judge’s ruling yesterday, the dog will be rotated, every five weeks, between the homes of Eric Dare, who was originally awarded custody of the dog, and his ex, Doreen Houseman, who sued to get Dexter back.
Dexter has been with Dare since the initial court ruling, filed after the couple ended their relationship in May 2006. They spent 13 years as a couple, but never married.
An appeals panel earlier this year reversed the original ruling by Judge John Tomasello, saying the judge had failed to consider Dexter’s “subjective value.”
The panel said the dog was similar to a family heirloom, or work of art, that cannot simply be awarded to one person in exchange for a face-value payment. Houseman was paid $1,500, the price of the pedigree dog, but she wanted the pet, which she frequently dressed in costumes and lavished with gifts.
Both live in Gloucester County, N.J.
Houseman, 35, who now lives with her parents, said she was “very happy” with the ruling and can’t wait to give Dexter “a lot of hugs and kisses” when she sees him Friday. Dare, 37, said he was shocked and may appeal the ruling.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 22nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: custody, decision, dexter, doreen houseman, eric dare, gloucester county, judge, lawsuit, legal, new jersey, news, pug, ruling, shared, subjective, value
Chimps may share more of our genes, but dogs have lived with us for so long – in our houses, on our beds (and, of course, sneaking out for late night poker games) – they may evolved into a better model for understanding human social behavior, according to a new study.
In terms of cooperation, attachment to people, their ability to imitate and their understanding of human communication (verbally and non-verbally) dogs have become not just man’s best friend, but, socially, his closest counterpart in the animal kingdom, according to a paper accepted for publication in the journal Advances in the Study of Behavior.
They might even be thinking more like us, too. the Discovery Channel’s Jennifer Viegas reports.
Researchers believe adapting to the same living conditions may have resulted in the similarities. “That shared environment has led to the emergence of functionally shared behavioral features in dogs and humans and, in some cases, functionally analogous underlying cognitive skills” lead author Jozsef Topal explained to Discovery News.
(Digression: While I couldn’t agree more with that — to the extent I understand it — I don’t agree with what Topal says it should lead to: dogs serving as the “new chimpanzees” in psychological studies. In fact, I’m not much on the chimps being used, either, or poor college students, at least when such experimentation gets into using drugs, scalpels and electrical implements. )
The study by Topal and his team at the Institute for Psychology at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences found that dogs kept as pets can be regarded in many respects as “infants in canine clothing,” and that many dog-owner relationships mirror human parental bonds with children.
In one of many recent studies conducted by the team, Topal and his colleagues taught both a 16-month-old human child and mature dogs to repeat multiple demonstrated actions on verbal command — “Do it!,” shouted in Hungarian.
The actions included turning around in circles, vocalizing, jumping up, jumping over a horizontal rod, putting an object into a container, carrying an object to the owner or parent, according to the study.
While I don’t find that all that amazing, it is fascinating to think about how dogs, the longer they live with humans and the closer our relationships become, might continue to evolve in the household. I’m guessing there are already some homes that tune into TV shows they think the dog will like. How much longer until the dog controls the remote?
Posted by jwoestendiek March 27th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adapting, behavior, chimps, closer, discovery, dogs, evolution, human, humanization, humans, hungarian academy of sciences, jozsef topal, laboratory, model, paper, psychology, science, shared, social, study