Scientific proof, as any good politician knows, is very helpful to any successful campaign. How kind then of boffins in Hungary to make a scientific discovery about dogs’ emotions just as I’m campaigning for ‘Mission Marcy’?
Regular readers will know that my husband and I have a schnauzer named Hank. Lee named him after a character from the TV show Californication. He’d not been with us long when my husband floated the idea that maybe Hank should have a Marcy (another character from the series) to keep him company. Well, of course, that light-hearted mention is all a girl needs. Like a dog with a bone (excuse the pun) I took the idea of Marcy and wouldn’t let it go until persuasion had conjured her into a reality.
As if on cue, enter scientist Attila Andics. For background – his team were so determined to prove their canine emotion theory, that they first had to spend time training eleven dogs to lie motionless in an MRI scanner long enough for them to be able to record their canine brain response. That’s dedication for you.
What they wanted to show was that our furry friends have some kind of emotional response to vocal sounds. They played noises to them ranging from barking and whining to crying and laughing. Then they compared them to how a human reacts to the same sounds. What they found was that doggy brains respond in vey similar ways to humans’ when they hear happy sounds or sad sounds. The science boffins concluded that humans share a very similar social environment and claim it explains why vocal communication between the two species is so relevant. In other words, (as we’ve always believed but never known for sure) dogs have feelings too!
Why is this so important to ‘Mission Marcy’? Well, from being a cute squeaking bundle of puppy fluffiness, Hank fast progressed to adolescence. His voice broke. And he become an enthusiastic vocal communicator when he felt the need. One of his favourite one-sided conversations, which started recurring whenever we left him on his own at home, was the howl of a lone wolf. Well, on my (loose!) interpretation of the scientific evidence, I think I can safely say that this was Hank telling us he didn’t want his ‘pack’ to leave him on his own. Ok, it may be a little far-fetched to translate ‘dogs brains react to vocal sounds like humans’ as ‘dogs can talk’. But it served my purpose perfectly.
So, thank you Attila Andics and your crew, we now have double schnauzer trouble! Marcy has settled in nicely and Hank is her best buddy. There are twice the number of odd socks being stolen from the wash basket, twice the beggars for dinner scraps… and, as for taking the pair of them for walks on their extending leads, well that mostly ends up as a bizarre canine twist on maypole dancing.
But they make each other very happy. They told me so themselves. 😉 Mission accomplished….