Hi everyone. I initially typed “Inside a God”. Ha! That is where dogs are on my pedestal. After reading terrific comments from a couple different blogs on animal behavior, I went to my dog library and re-pulled one of my favorite recent dog books.
Alexandra Horowitz does a terrific job researching dogs from a psychological approach and urges us humans to look at dogs without our natural inclination to anthropomorphizing them.
It has been about 2 years since I last read “Inside a Dog”. In thumbing through pages again, I am amazed and want to re-read it again, starting tonight. What struck me was a couple things.
First was “umwelt” or better explained what is our self-world or self perception. If we no longer look at the dog through our prism, what is their umwelt? How do they perceive the world.
In one sense, when you get down to their level and take pictures, you can see from their eye level. But, our lack of smell must make that “view” so two dimensional compared to their sight, smell, and hearing. Do they see furniture and plants the way we do? I am sure my lavender plants have a sweet pungent smell, but Scout doesn’t know that they are MINE and he “shouldn’t eat it”. From his perspective, the yard is his and there to explore. The fence merely prevents him from exploring further. The sounds from the other side of the fence are beckoning him to “bark” back. “Hi, I’m Here!! or My Yard, Go Way”.
Second was “theory of mind”, or that we humans can think about what others are thinking. For most humans, theory of mind allows you to realize that others have perspectives different from your own. When you struggle with “theory of mind”, as many of us do with Aspergers, even simple interactions can be utterly unpredictable and mysterious. You have a “what the %$*# just happened moment”.
Dogs don’t seem to have those WTF moments. They seemingly have mind reading ability. They know when the kids will arrive home from school. They know when it is dinner time. They plop themselves as obstacles while I am cooking at the stove or exiting the bathroom. I change positions at my desk, and they are at the ready for me to go get water. Best of all, on awful days, the dogs seem to realize I am in woeful need of dog therapy and insist on laying on me or touching me in some fashion. Do they know? Do they sense the need? or are they simply trained with stimulus and response.
I love taking video and pictures from a dog or child’s eye level. You can see things from their perspective. What do the weeds and the trail look like when you run through them. I tried to mute the wind background. But I wanted you to hear the grass crunching and the dogs huffing as they run through the tall weeds.