The world according to dog!
Dogs and humans have been hanging out together for more than 14 000 years and it’s a love affair made in heaven. We give some interesting – and bizarre – facts (or fiction) about man and woman’s best friend.
What it’s like to be…. your canine chum
Pssst, we know we are your best and most loyal friend but here are a few things you may not know about us.
We can actually see colours, but not as vividly as humans can
We only have two cones in our eyes to detect colours, whereas humans have three. This means we can see colours on a blue and yellow scale but cannot distinguish between red and green. On the other hand, we have better night vision than you.
We can smell disease
If we are acting strange, there may be nothing wrong with us and the problem could be with you. Research in Germany found we have an incredible ability to recognise the smell of a range of organic compounds that show the human body isn’t working as it should. This means we can actually diagnose your cancer, something scientists are eager to explore further, as well as diabetes and the early signs of an epileptic seizure.
A wagging tail does not always mean we are happy
Tail wagging has its own language. When we wag our tail to the right, we’re happy and to the left, we are frightened. Wagging low means we feel insecure but be careful when we wag our tail very fast, with tensed muscles and pupils dilated, then we are getting aggressive. When our tails are down, between our legs, we are sad…boo-hoo.
We can dream, just like human beings
This won’t come as a huge surprise if you have watched us twitching or whimpering in our sleep. We have the same brain wave patterns while we are asleep as humans, so we dream just like you do. But what is more surprising, is the fact that not all of us dream the same amount. Small dogs actually have more dreams than big dogs.
We can fall in love
It’s not called puppy love for nothing. The concept that we can fall in love was suggested by anthropologist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Social Lives of Dogs, who believed two dogs named Sundog and Bean were agonised star-crossed lovers kept apart because neither of their owners wanted to give them up.
We can be pretty smart
You might sometimes think we are as daft as a brush, but the truth is we are actually as smart as a two year-old child, according to research presented to the American Psychological Association, and who would question them? We have to be honest, Border Collies are the cleverest (they can understand up to 200 words). The other clever ones among us are Dobermans, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and, can you believe it, Poodles!
Take our fingerprint
Our paw print may look pretty generic but our nose print is actually as unique as a human fingerprint. The combination of ridges and creases on our noses are so distinct it can actually be used to identify us. Good luck trying to get us to stick our nose in a pad of ink without sneezing though!
Our paws smell of popcorn
Some of you may notice the faint scent of corn chips or popcorn lingering around our paw area. This is knowns as “frito feet”, and it happens when sweat and bacteria build up in our paws. Even though we sweat through the pads of our paws, our main form of cooling down is panting.
Please don’t rush us when we have to go to the loo
There’s a reason we circle around before getting down to business: we have an instinct to be aligned with the earth’s magnetic field before we poop. In fact, researchers watched 70 of us engage in 1, 893 defecations over a two-year period just to figure this out!
You say I'm great with kids, but...
..if I’m licking, pulling my ears back, turning my head away, or yawning (all signs of anxiety) while they play with me, I’m probably just barely tolerating them. If you keep letting them pull my tail, one of these days, I may just lose it.
Please introduce me around when I'm young so I'm not afraid of strangers
Some experts say I should meet 100 new people of different sizes, genders, and ethnicities in my first 100 days at home, even if it’s just a quick greeting. Please also make sure you include people wearing hats and sunglasses, since those accessories can look awfully scary to me.
If you lose me...
The first thing you should do is call every animal shelter within 50km of home, and visit the nearest shelters every day if you can. Many animal control bureaus euthanise animals if they go unclaimed for a specific amount of time. (For good measure, please be sure to get me a microchip when I’m young.)
Look in the mirror with your pet
Pets and their owners are just like married couples and they get more alike over time, Prof Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire claims. A few years ago, he asked almost 2 500 people to complete online questionnaires about their characters and those of their pets.
He found that many dog lovers, cat owners and even reptile keepers said they shared many of the same traits – such as happiness, intelligence, independence and sense of humour – as their pets.
But he also discovered the longer an animal had been with their owner, the more likely they were to have picked up their characteristics.
Beware of the Foo Dogs!
Foo Dogs (they are actually lions) give great protection in Feng Shui terms. Most homes or businesses in Asia are complemented by a pair either inside or outside. The male Foo holds a globe under his right paw, signifying control over his domain and protection of his home while the female holds a cub under her left paw, signifying strong maternal protective instincts. The Foo (also Fu) Dogs must be placed so that as you approach your front door, the male (yang) is on the right and the female (yin) on the left. Look for Foos on Amazon. fengshuiweb.co.uk/advice/fudogs2007.