They say there’s no greater wealth in the world than the gift/ privilege of love. They say love can tame the un-tameable, conquer the unconquerable, and that love transcends the barriers of language , religion, caste, and creed. True, we say. Love transcends every imaginable barrier that mankind has ever known of- even the ones posed by the difference of biological species. Yes, we are talking about the unbridled love between the tamed and the untamed- between man and animals.
Man’s love for animals is legendary. History would testify that man has gone to the farthest possible extents for the sake of the compassion he has harbored for his animal companion. This compassion often disapproves of inveterate norms, defies sane logic. And yet, many a man still scripts many a story of incomparable love with four- legged creatures across the globe.
And when the four- legged creature happens to be a DOG, the love, somehow (and quite unfairly) scales a different level altogether.Maybe because of the mushiness in the eyes, the delightful wag of the tail in your presence , the heart- wrenching whine in your absence or the absolute comprehension of your everyday emotions, dogs stand second to none when it comes to compassion and companionship for the human race. That is because dogs are extremely emotional and, quite discernibly, are extremely intelligent creatures.
Dogs are experts at reading other dogs’ body language, and also at interpreting human faces for cues as to intention and mood. Like people, dogs study the area around the eyes on the right side of a person’s face, where human emotions appear most intensely. But exactly how similar are dogs’ social reading skills to our own, and vice verse? We will tell you how, with the help of a recently conducted experiment, Let’s see if the results help us answer the question do dogs have emotions?
In a first- of- its- kind experiment, scientists compared humans and dogs while looking at everyday scenes. They recorded 46 dogs’ and 26 humans’ eye movements when watching two people hugging or walking away from each other, and when looking at two dogs greeting or facing away. Each dog was trained to lie down and face a monitor where photos appeared, and the people looked at the same images. As the dogs and people looked at images, an eye-tracking device recorded the focus of their gaze.
Dogs and men both gazed longer at scenes showing hugging or interaction than they did at images showing people or dogs facing away, as shown in the photo above, in which red circles show the areas the dogs were most intent on and blue circles show where people fixated. (The larger the circle, the more time the dog or person spent looking at an area; lines show the path that the eyes traveled across the image.)
Human babies also prefer looking at social versus nonsocial scenes, and that dogs do this, too, suggests that, like humans of all ages, they can readily spot—and are more interested in—scenes in which people interact. But the dogs watched the photos of people hugging far longer than they did the pictures of dogs greeting each other, as shown by the large red circles; their eyes also moved back and forth between the two human characters, suggesting that they needed more time to interpret their postures.
For their part, the humans spent more time looking at the greeting dogs than at people hugging, and their eyes traveled more between the two dogs, the scientists report online today in Royal Society Open Science. Doesn’t this sufficiently prove that dogs have a brain that tick wonderfully well?
For obvious reasons, the dog’s brain wouldn’t think, perceive, emote or interpret as well as the human brain would. But then, there are enough reasons to believe that the pet dog in your home or the street dog across the lane can think, perceive , emote and interpret adequately well to sink delightfully into your heart, and be a companion like there has never been. So, what do you think? do dogs have emotions?
A dog is a man’s best friend, said an omniscient man. Whoever, it was, we say, “Very well said Sir”.
– Author – Kaustav Deb