Humor in the Corona Virus age has abounded—perhaps as sincere attempts to keep us on more positive and upbeat thoughts. Something I am seeing over and over on social media is memes about how happy dogs are to have their owners home during shelter-in-place. That is opposed to cats, who wonder why we humans are invading their space.
The friendship between dogs and humankind transcends antiquity and scientists cannot agree on when it first took place. A dog bone found in the prehistoric tomb at Newgrange, Ireland, indicates domestication some 4,800 years ago. Although theories abound on how our current lovable fur babies descended from wild and woolly wolves, one interesting thought contends that dogs self-domesticated. Some theorists suggest that the friendlier animals were more prone to be curious or seek out people, probably as a source of food. However it started, no one would now dispute the affection between dog owners and their pets.
In the article ‘Animal Cognition’, researchers Benjamin and Slocombe compare dogs’ responses to dog-directed-speech and adult-directed-speech. Any dog lover knows the routine. Your voice gets higher pitched and you find yourself making comments like, “Who’s a good girl?”, “There’s my sweet baby”, and “Does sugar baby want a treat?” That’s dog directed speech (DDS), and turns out, it’s not just idle babbling destined to make you look foolish in front of your friends and family. Not only the tonal range seems to be preferred by dogs, they also prefer the dog relevant comments. The study distinctly showed the test dogs gravitated towards those people who demonstrated dog-friendly language.
Not only does ‘man’s best friends’ welcome the silly dog speak, they also exude the ‘love’ hormone, Oxytocin when gazing into our eyes. And, guess what, so do we! A study directed by Nagasawa titled “Oxytocin-gaze Positive Loop and the Co-evolution of Human-dog Bonds” was the first to demonstrate this cross-species outcome of Oxytocin. Oxytocin is known for the feel-good response it brings to us. You may be most familiar with Oxytocin’s connection to people in love, or mothers with their infants.
Now science is showing us that the bonds we develop with our dogs are affixed with a chemical reaction—oxytocin—akin to the deepest of human attachments. K. London, in her article, ‘Oxytocin: Chemistry Between People and Dogs is Real’ confirms, “…we love our dogs like we love people, scientifically speaking.” So, cuddle up with your pooch and enjoy some dog/person moments for a surge of feel-good hormones. Whether you need a boost to help you through challenging times or are reaffirming the connection you already have with your furry friend, gaze into those loving eyes and prattle a little DDS. You can be sure your fur baby is feeling the same way.
The Sedona Community Center continues to provide Meals on Wheels to home-bound residents and Mobile Meals for pick-up by guests at the Center. Suggested contribution is $5 for people 60+ and $6 for all others. Meals on Wheels recipients may request pet food assistance and delivery through our Pet Food Project. We are proud to offer this service to keep beloved pets at home with their owners and thank the contributors that make it possible. Please call 928.282.2834 for more information. This article is dedicated in memory of my Jack Russel Terrier, Dottie, who went over the Rainbow Bridge March 21st. The 14 years of bouncing, inquisitive, mischievous joy she brought us will always be treasured.