Dog owners might not be too impressed when they’re able to point out a fallen piece of chicken or a thrown stick to their pooch, but dogs’ ability to follow that seemingly simple gesture places them in rare air in the animal kingdom. Some research suggests that even chimpanzees, our closest evolutionary relatives, don’t understand pointing as well as dogs.
For decades, researchers have debated whether dogs obtain their ability to understand pointing by spending time with humans and learning it or if our furry companions are born with a capacity to comprehend this deceptively complex feat of communication.
And if one follows that link above then one comes to Current Biology and, again, an extract:
Human cognition is believed to be unique in part because of early-emerging social skills for cooperative communication.1Comparative studies show that at 2.5 years old, children reason about the physical world similarly to other great apes, yet already possess cognitive skills for cooperative communication far exceeding those in our closest primate relatives.2,3 A growing body of research indicates that domestic dogs exhibit functional similarities to human children in their sensitivity to cooperative-communicative acts. From early in development, dogs flexibly respond to diverse forms of cooperative gestures.4,5 Like human children, dogs are sensitive to ostensive signals marking gestures as communicative, as well as contextual factors needed for inferences about these communicative acts.6, 7, 8 However, key questions about potential biological bases for these abilities remain untested. To investigate their developmental and genetic origins, we tested 375 8-week-old dog puppies on a battery of social-cognitive measures. We hypothesized that if dogs’ skills for cooperating with humans are biologically prepared, then they should emerge robustly in early development, not require extensive socialization or learning, and exhibit heritable variation. Puppies were highly skillful at using diverse human gestures, and we found no evidence that their performance required learning. Critically, over 40% of the variation in dogs’ point-following abilities and attention to human faces was attributable to genetic factors. Our results suggest that these social skills in dogs emerge early in development and are under strong genetic control.
And I am going to sneak one of the photographs in the original article!
And what better to close the post that one of the photos I showed yesterday of dear Joy.
Recently we went across to a good friend of Jeannie’s to take some photographs of her new puppy. The friend is LaRita and the puppy is Joy. Joy is just eight weeks old and beautifully friendly to strangers. Joy is a puppy Labrador.
So here are the photos.
Finally one wet puppy!
What a beautiful dog!
P.S. All of a sudden WordPress have changed things and I cannot now find how to post the title of the post. I hope it will still be published and that you will enjoy these photos of Joy!
P.P.S. Until I hear back from WordPress or until I can work out the reason why I can’t post titles I shall not be doing more posts. Hopefully it won’t be long!
Update! It was my mistake. WordPress answered my email just a few minutes ago (14:45 PST) and all is sorted.
Regular followers will be aware that both Monday’s post, The growth of empathy, and Tuesday’s post, Questions without answers, had a common theme. That of “the rising consciousness of all the millions of ordinary people just trying to leave the world in a better place”, as I wrote on Monday, in contrast, even stark contrast, with the blindness, for want of a stronger term, of those charged with governing our societies.
Around 12:45 on Monday I received a note that there was another follower of Learning from Dogs. Here is that note:
dcardiff just started following you at http://learningfromdogs.com. They will receive an email every time you publish a post. Congratulations.
You might want to go see what they’re up to! Perhaps you will like their blog as much as they liked yours!
Like many other bloggers I try and go to whatever blog site that follower has and leave a ‘thank you’ message.
So off I went to Gotta Find a Home. The blogsite is by Dennis Cardiff and the sub-title of the blog is The plight of the homeless.
Here’s how Dennis introduces his blog:
Throughout the past few years I have come to know many people, now friends, who for various reasons are, or were, homeless. Antonio, slept on a park bench and was beaten, had his teeth kicked out, for no other reason than his choice to sleep outdoors. He is a small, gentle man who has a phobia about enclosed spaces.
Craig, slept on the sidewalk in the freezing cold. I see him every morning and am never sure if, when I lift the corner of his sleeping bag, I will find him dead or alive. Sometimes, he confided, he would prefer never to awake.
Joy is a friend who fell on hard times. She slept behind a dumpster in back of Starbucks. I have seen her with blackened eyes, bruised legs, cracked ribs, cut and swollen lips. I usually see her sitting on the sidewalk ‘panning’ for change.
I can’t do much for these people except to show them love, compassion, an ear to listen, perhaps a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. I would like to do more. To know them is to love them. What has been seen cannot be unseen. I have started to write an account of their daily lives. I intend to turn this into a book and have it published. That is my goal.
I am writing articles and biographies of Joy and other street people. They have been informed that they don’t have to use their real names, that any profits would go back to the homeless and that it could be a vehicle to say whatever they want to the population at large.
Not only does that stir one’s heart and conscience but more so the fact that there are 6,069 followers of Dennis’s blog.
My lungs ached, as frost hung in the bitterly cold December morning air, making breathing difficult. I trudged in the falling snow toward Place Bell where I work, in the city’s gray, concrete, office tower canyon. I dodged other pedestrians, also trying to get to work on time, I noticed a woman seated cross-legged on the sidewalk with her back against the wall of the library. A snow-covered Buddha wrapped in a sleeping bag, shivering in the below freezing temperature. I guessed her to be in her forties. Everything about her seemed round. She had the most angelic face, sparkling blue eyes and a beautiful smile. A cap was upturned in front of her. I thought,There but for the grace of God go I. Her smile and blue eyes haunted me all day.
In the past I’ve been unemployed, my wife and I were unable to pay our mortgage and other bills, we went through bankruptcy, lost our house, my truck. Being in my fifties, my prospects looked dim. It could have been me, on the sidewalk, in her place.
I’ve been told not to give money to pan handlers because they’ll just spend it on booze. I thought to myself, What should I do, if anything? What would you do? I asked for advice from a friend who has worked with homeless people. She said, “The woman is probably hungry. Why don’t you ask her if she’d like a breakfast sandwich and maybe a coffee?”
That sounded reasonable, so the next day I asked, “Are you hungry? Would you like some breakfast, perhaps a coffee?”
“That would be nice,” she replied.
When I brought her a sandwich and coffee she said to me, “Thank you so much, sir. You’re so kind. Bless you.” I truly felt blessed.
This has become a morning routine for the past two and a half years. The woman (I’ll call Joy) and I have become friends. Often I’ll sit with her on the sidewalk. We sometimes meet her companions in the park. They have become my closest friends. I think of them as angels. My life has become much richer for the experience.
Reflect on how when you see a homeless person with so little, how so often they have a dog.
A friend of mine posted this photo on their Facebook wall. Like most people when they first see it, I was overwhelmed with several emotions.
First of all, I felt a swell of compassion for these two. I don’t even know them, but I was immediately concerned with their wellbeing. I wanted them to be warm and fed, and protected.
Secondly, I was touched with the apparent love and friendship shared by the two, even though they are not even of the same species. I thought, “They may have nothing, but they have each other, so they have everything.” I don’t know by what circumstance this man and this dog came to be together, living on the streets, but I think it is a reflection of the callousness of our society.
Whatever the reason they are homeless, they are an opportunity for us, those who have the necessities of life in abundance, to show kindness and compassion. Remember this the next time you drive by a similar scene in your warm car. Remember that if you were in their shoes, you would want, or even if you would be too ashamed to ‘want,’ you would ‘need’ someone to help you.
Our apathy is what makes us truly destitute.
Yet another example of the power of this new world of interconnectedness and how, ultimately, those connections between all those millions who care will bring about a new caring era!