Have you ever seen the Tee-shirt with the inscription “Dogs are People too”? I once bought one for my brother and you can’t imagine how many glares or stares he got, not so much from people admiring the tee-shirt, but from the weird inscription on it. Weird? Yes, weird on my own side of the universe, as I am from the continent where we are ever so proud of our shiny ebony skins. You may have read the inscription elsewhere or probably, may have even never seen it. However, in your own heart of hearts, what would you think? Are dogs people too?
A research shared by Channel 4 news,1 claimed that dogs are a reflection of the personalities of their owners. According to Dr. Lance Workman, “We might be able to make predictions about someone’s personality based on the breed of dog that they choose to own”. They are influencers, as they are said to “influence2 social, emotional, and cognitive development in children, promote an active lifestyle, and have even been able to detect oncoming epileptic seizures or the presence of certain cancers.” In another research, dogs’ brains3 were said to have striking similarities with those of humans in terms of semblance and function. Having owned dogs myself, I can testify from experience, that they are quite intelligent and they have the gift of intuition. On more than one occasion, I noticed that Wasco, Tuzzy, Orion, Canine or any other member of my dog family, had some premonition of some sort when something unpleasant was about to happen. Hence, I get worried when any of the dogs looked sad and I become extra-sensitive after then.
“There is now convincing scientific evidence4 that companion animals have positive effects on psychological and physical well-being, helping shape how people regulate their emotions, deal with stress or trauma, and relate to others.”
Bis Lam, a dog lover who owns almost a dozen dogs herself, attests to this. She has lived alone with her dogs for well over a decade. She is one of the most awesome human beings I have met. For her, of course, dogs behave humanly many times. She has found them to be real companions in every sense of the word. For her, Dogs are indeed people. Dogs have been found to have had positive therapeutic effect5 on patients in healthcare too, speeding up the recovery process. Some studies confirm that oxytocin,6 the love hormone, is produced when a dog and its human companion look at each other in the eye for a while. So, it was no surprise to see that a research which subjected dogs to an MRI scan to study their brains and thought pattern came up with the suggestion that dogs had the ability to experience positive emotions7 like love and attachment. Big Data Analyses8 from veterinary clinical records further assert that many human diseases could be researched through dogs due to similarities with humans.
So, how come dogs and humans are best of friends? The relationship, dates back to centuries ago, says James Serpell,9 tracing it to early interactions between normadic human hunters and wolves. It is believed that wolves actually evolved to dogs. Interestingly, in literature dating back to c. 8th century BC, Homer’s Odyssey,10 Argos, his dog, was the only one that recognised Odysseus on return, confirming the long relationship between humans and dogs as well as the latter’s strong loyalty. Dogs make good companions. They are also great at work. They have been used for hunting and as guide or guard dogs for centuries. Their sniffing ability help with detective roles and being on the “search and rescue team” could be very productive.
Nevertheless, Gregory Berns,11 the renowned Emory University neuroscientist, still states categorically that dog brains are not the same as humans and a striking difference is in their size.s Additionally, dogs can’t speak in words, though they possess some form of communicative ability.
“Dogs are not humans.12 But we are desperate to appropriate whatever it means to be dog and to make that over in our image” -Gregory Berns.
Dogs could be selfish, another publication13 reveals. They love their owners and are most loyal to them mainly because they are being fed by them. Ever seen a dog refuse a delicious-looking piece of meat? Well, most dogs won’t. Unfortunately, this seems to be the most potent means used in some climes to carry out crimes without the guard dog getting in the way. Additionally, due to their long relationship with man, leading to their domestication, they have lost the ability to think for themselves, unlike their cousins, the wolves, states Bradley Smith14 who was leading psychologist of a research carried out in Australia.
“Dogs are great at social tasks such as communicating with humans, using humans as tools, learning from humans via observation. However wolves are much, much better at general problem solving.” -Bradley Smith
And before you ask me for what I think, may I quickly state that time and space would not allow me to continue this debate beyond this point. However, I would think it is apt for you to chip in your own take right here and now. What do you think? Are dogs people too?
1 Now it’s official: dogs are humans too. Channel 4 News. Available at: https://www.channel4.com/news/now-its-official-dogs-are-humans-too [Accessed April 1, 2019].
2 Dogs | Healthy Pets, Healthy People | CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/dogs.html [Accessed April 1, 2019].
3 Dogs Are People, Too: They Love Us and Miss Us fMRI’s Say. Psychology Today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/animal-emotions/201310/dogs-are-people-too-they-love-us-and-miss-us-fmris-say [Accessed April 1, 2019].
4 Sable, P., 2012. The Pet Connection: An Attachment Perspective. SpringerLink. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10615-012-0405-2 [Accessed April 1, 2019].
5Search.proquest.com. Available at: https://search.proquest.com/openview/1ec7d53613f67ad4acaf5c8d7ef4357a/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=816390 [Accessed April 1, 2019].
6 Smith, C., 2018. Does your dog really love you? ABC News. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2017-11-11/is-there-any-scientific-evidence-that-your-dog-loves-you/8976256 [Accessed April 1, 2019].
7 Berns, G., 2013. Dogs Are People, Too. The New York Times. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/opinion/sunday/dogs-are-people-too.html [Accessed April 1, 2019].
8 Man’s ‘Best Friend’ just got even better. RVC. Available at: https://www.rvc.ac.uk/research/news/general/companion-dogs [Accessed April 3, 2019].
9 Sable, P., 2012. The Pet Connection: An Attachment Perspective. SpringerLink. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10615-012-0405-2 [Accessed April 1, 2019].
102019. Man’s best friend (phrase). Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man’s_best_friend_(phrase) [Accessed April 3, 2019].
11 2017. Dogs Have Feelings-Here’s How We Know. National Geographic. Available at: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/09/dog-brain-feelings-mri-gregory-berns/ [Accessed April 3, 2019].
12 Dayan, C., 2014. Dogs Are Not People. Boston Review. Available at: http://bostonreview.net/books-ideas/colin-dayan-dogs-are-not-people-humanity [Accessed April 3, 2019].
13 Cloake, F., 2017. Dogs aren’t just man’s best friend – they’re man’s least honest friend | Felicity Cloake. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/13/dogs-best-friend-least-honest-friend [Accessed April 3, 2019].
14 Blake, H., 2010. Dogs ‘too reliant on humans to think for themselves’. The Telegraph. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/pets/7813988/Dogs-too-reliant-on-humans-to-think-for-themselves.html [Accessed April 3, 2019].