8.16.2004

Anthropomorphism-

an·thro·po·mor·phism Pronunciation: -"fi-z&mFunction: nounDate: 1753: an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics : HUMANIZATION- an·thro·po·mor·phist /-fist/ noun
definition courtesy of BRITANNICA.com

Last night at a going away dinner for the former City Bikes Mountainbike Team Captain, Brian Kemler, I boldly teased a cute female friend of the host about her over rationalization of her dog's behavior. She was a good sport about it all, often my dry sense of humor can just be seen as obnoxious behavior, when more often than not it is nothing but obnoxious behavior. Apparently her little lapdog bit Kemler on one of their first encounters, the bite was not serious, yet serious enough to draw blood and to be a topic of conversation at this dinner party. The owner of this vicious little lap dog had a long list of reasons why her dog had behaved out of character and bit Kemler. There was the change of surroundings, the presence of the cats, the hair cut from the day prior....and the list goes on. Again rudely, I broke in..."you are forgetting the primary rational....it is a dog." My intention was not to be rude, but it did seem a little overboard to rationalize the minutiae of what changes in this dog's life may had caused it to lash out unprovoked on to Brian Kemler. Then I thought back to the events of the day and how my dogs had bum rushed a Rodesian Ridgeback in Rock Creek Park. After I was able to dispel the near attack I too gave off a list of rationales trying to excuse my dogs inexcusable behavior. The owners were pleasant, accepted my apology, my over rationalization, and we made good with some small talk about cycling and the Olympics.

This leads me to this question...

"Do our pets experience the same set of emotions that we experience?"

As a dog owner I can clearly see that my dogs do experience the same basic sets of emotions that we experience. Certainly the dogs get hungry, feel cold, experience pain, exhaustion, even loneliness, etc....but what about the more complex set of emotions that we feel; do dogs feel insecurity...vanity...compassion? (to name a few)

This is a difficult issue to approach. Each pet owner looks at the actions of their dog and ends up putting a greater meaning to the behavior then any stranger would. Is it possible that this girl's dog lashed out at Kemler because she was still in a bad mood about a haircut she had received the day prior?
When my dogs get their hair trimmed (not styled) they do behave differently. Roscoe and Brutus run faster and more free, but do they feel more stylish? The absence of the excess of hair gives them a burst of energy; they appear to be energized for the next few days after the trimming of their hair, is the behavior due to the light weight aerodynamics of it all or do they feel slick and cool? Do they care about how this haircut makes them look or just how it makes them feel? Do dogs think on that level? Are dogs that vain or insecure? At first thought I would answer no, but after a short reflection to the 6 plus years with these dogs and I can think of some humanlike reactions to various situations. There have been times where we have put hats, sunglasses, or bandanas on the dogs and they have wrestled their way out of them. Did Roscoe or Brutus dislike the feel of the accessories or did they not care for the look? In the case of the Elizabethan Colar I would have to say that there is some sort of deeper emotion than the basic physical discomfort. The dogs see the colar and the roll their eyes back, draw in their tales, and try to squirm away. Once the collar is on they look and act depressed. Or am I just another dog owner falsely putting unfounded human emotions onto the behaviors of a dog?

Can a dog feel depression? Do dogs have moods or mood swings?
I would say certainly yes. My dogs behave differently after they are well exercised rather than during the times when they are given just the short loop to poop and pee. These guys hit some sort of boiling point where they become more prone to what I call "an incident." An Incident can be any negative encounter where the dogs rush or attack another dog or even a person (the attack on a person is quite seldom, but the none dog person who runs and screams in fear draws attention to themselves. the dogs who may have previously been uninterested in this person then fall back on instinct; you run from the dog...the dog chases) In any case, it is vital to give the dogs some vigorous exercise so that they can exist "incident free." This may be drifting from the point, but when the dogs are well exercised they seem more even keeled or perhaps more well adjusted.

need to get back to work
this blog
as most blogs
is starting to blog on
guess I like to plant the seed
my intention is not to prove or disprove an argument
but to aid in presenting my side or another side
to aid in people thinking about these things
and hopefully people will respond to my posts in an effort to help me to expand my thoughts, opinions, and ideas


dog-ter: a pun about a dog owners over protective somewhat parental treatment of their dog; as in daughter. As in; My dogter did the cutest thing this morning...

as far as cats go...
cats are just furry fish that swim around their house




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