Wag The Dog

Pic. by Tiago Hoisel

I don’t own a dog. Never had. It means that my home cannot boast the presence of a statistical 1.6 dogs per household out of a total of over 7 million canines that own their human companions.

In my defense I can say that I’ve done my fair share of dog-sitting, I’ve been bitten by a dog (not the same dog I’ve dog-sat), I admired certain dogs,  and certain dogs liked me, at least as far as I could tell. I’ve been terrified of a few dogs in my life (not the same dogs I’ve admired), I felt compassion for abused canines and, I must confess,  I envied a few dogs that I suspected lived a better life than me.


Illustration by Tiago Hoisel

I do know, and I do believe both anecdotal and scientific evidence that people owned by dogs as their companions tend to be generally healthier and happier than those who choose freedom.

7 million dogs who own human companions, with a few exceptions, own almost as many dog tails. Wagging. Left-to-right. Right-to-left. While other dogs are watching…

Most dog companions, friends and admirers might’ve payed little attention to the dogs’ emotional responses to their fellow canines swinging tails. However, its time they should. At least it’s recommended, particularly to those of us who want to be owned by a happier dogs.

At the Centre for Mind/Brain Sciences at the University of Trento, Italy, were published the results of a research, shedding some light on the tips of dogs’ tails.

 ‘The direction of tail wagging does in fact matter, and it matters in a way that matches hemispheric activation.

‘In other words, a dog looking to a dog wagging with a bias to the right side – and thus showing left-hemisphere activation as if it was experiencing some sort of positive/approach response – would also produce relaxed responses.

‘In contrast, a dog looking to a dog wagging with a bias to the left – and thus showing right-hemisphere activation as if it was experiencing some sort of negative/withdrawal response — would also produce anxious and targeting responses as well as increased cardiac frequency. That is amazing, I think.’  (The study leader Dr Giorgio Vallortigara.)

I think so too.  At least I did, until I stumbled upon this comment by a person who sounds like someone who knows something I don’t:

I really question any “research” that is based on showing dogs videos. Dogs see faster than humans do. So what looks like a moving picture to human eyes looks like a slowly flipping series of pictures to a dog.

Bird see at even faster rates than dogs do. So a moving picture looks like a series of still pictures to parrots, birds of prey and other birds. Unless they had special video video done just for dogs, this research doesn’t mean much. (Garnet, Pacific Northwest, 3 weeks ago).

For me this means I’d probably spend a few minutes seeking some info about the difference between canine eye and mine.

Most sites that reported on a dog-tail-wag research also linked to this video in the Sciencemag.

Ahhhh, so much time, so little to say…


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