Penny For Your Thoughts

 Penny.jpg

Undeniably, Penny elicits affection when she tilts her head and looks inquisitively at us, but what is she thinking when she looks at us?  Does she see a human that she loves?  Does she see a human that she has learned is a source for food?  Does she see her pack leader? 

Dogs spend a great deal of time watching humans, observing our movements and noticing our habits.  Because of this, dogs have become very good at reading our behavior, including subtle differences in our behavior.  Dogs respond to our gestures, follow our gaze and pay attention to our body language.  Because their sense of smell is so powerful, they may be able to pick up changes in our scent when we are afraid.  Dogs have been our companions for thousands of years and have become sensitive to our cues. 

I have often heard people question how a dog knows that a walk is next on the agenda just by the way a person has gotten off the sofa.  The assumption is that the way you get off the sofa, or the ritual of getting off the sofa before a walk is slightly different than the way you get off the sofa to get a glass of water.  Dogs notice those things.

While the field of neuroscience is unlocking the secrets of the human brain, some researchers are also using brain scans to unleash how dogs think.  One particular study relies on MRI's of voluntary canine participants so that brain images can be explored.  The hope is that this exploration will lead to an understanding of canine cognition and inter-species communication. 

Until that time, I am happy to look back at Penny and feel warm and fuzzy because of my assumption that she sees me and loves me for me.  

Written by hart at 00:00
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