Is doggie love real? While it may seem obvious to you that your dog loves you, there’s been very little scientific data that dogs feel the equivalent of love for their owners. Some have argued that humans, who crave love and social bonds, see what they want to see when they ascribe “love” to their dogs, while the dogs are simply playing a game to manipulate you for food and care.
Now, from a team of neuroscientists in Japan, comes compelling evidence, released today in the journal Science, that dogs really do love their owners.
In two different experiments, the team, led by Takefumi Kikusui of Azabu University, measured levels of a hormone called oxytocin in response to dogs and owners gazing into each others’ eyes.
Scientists have previously shown that touching between dogs and people increases oxytocin levels in both humans and their pets, but this new research expands on these findings and extends it to include wolves that were hand-raised by humans.
The experiments focused on eye gaze. In the first experiment, dogs and their owners were assigned to interact for 30 minutes. Those dog-owner pairs that engaged in the most in eye contact showed the highest increases in urinary oxytocin levels in both partners. Touching also raised oxytocin levels.
When the experiment was repeated with wolf-owner pairs, the wolves rarely eye-gazed, and there was no correlation “with the oxytocin change ratio in either owners or wolves.”
Eugenia Ginzburg, who served eighteen years in the camps of Kolyma, wrote that when a camp of child prisoners was given two guard-dog puppies to raise the children at first could not think of anything to name them. The poverty of their surroundings had stripped their imaginations bare. Finally they chose names from common objects they saw every day. They named one puppy Ladle and the other Pail.
A couple of years ago I had just become the residential coordinator at the Salvation Army Community Services in Saskatoon and we had this guy sleeping on the front steps of the chapel. He wouldnâ€™t come inside because he had a dog (it wasnâ€™t a dog but that part will come later) and couldnâ€™t bear to be separated from him. We tried to come up with a solution. We called the SPCA (who didnâ€™t return our calls), we called some kennels but this guy would not give up his dog. The problem was it was cool out at night and he was getting sicker and sicker. Myself or another staff told him that if he went down to Social Services, we would keep him and the dog in our lounge area. The dog has no collar, no leash, and had a piece of binder twine for a leash. The guy told the dog (her name was Cleo) to stay and he wandered off. Social Services was busy that day and he was gone a couple of hours but the dog never moved. We checked on her all morning (we didnâ€™t want anyone to take her or the dog catcher to be called) and made sure she had food and water.
While he was gone, I got an excited phone call from the Social Services worker he saw he was both elated and surprised that we were going to keep the dog and at the same time was trying to come up with a way to see if she could pay for dog food. We had a donation of dog food come in from Safeway so it wasnâ€™t a problem. The client was happy, Social Services was thrilled, and the staff was all excited. Well most of the staff. I wasnâ€™t sure if there was a policy prohibiting dogs from staying at the shelter but I was sure I was breaking at least one rule.
The client came back and by that time my phone was ringing off the hook from other agencies who had heard we were taking this client and Cleo in to the Centre and wanted to help out. Over the next couple of hours Cleo had a proper collar and leash compliments of Wendy, a pink bandana, dog food dishes, grooming supplies, and multiple beds that came from the cushions of a wrecked couch that had been dumped in our parking lot. Cleo was quite an attraction and there was a literal lineup outside the door of the lounge as people came in to see and pet Cleo. We have a television set in the lounge and it wasnâ€™t turned on that evening. Why would you? There was a dog to pet.
I mentioned that it wasnâ€™t a dog earlierâ€¦ it was actually part coyote. This became relevant when I was being lectured by a co-worker about me letting dogs into the Centre and I replied, â€œIt isnâ€™t a dog, itâ€™s part coyote.â€ That didnâ€™t defuse the argument but in the end no one cared as it was a toothless coyote.
The toothless part was a bit of a problem as the dry dog food that we had wasnâ€™t going to work so the kitchen was making special meals for her. That stopped when some social workers who had found out that our dog wasnâ€™t just a dog but part toothless coyote came by with a couple different soft dog food meal options. Later that day a vet phoned to offer his services if needed because he had heard through the grapevine that we had a dogote prowling the grounds. Another agency had a new bike and a baby carrier for him that with a little work became thisâ€¦
In hindsight, it was the least productive yet most enjoyable couple of weeks we had at the shelter. I was amazed at how attached even the staff got to the dog. It isnâ€™t something that we have the ability to do but it is something that we have done from time to time over the years with the occasional dog and cat. The video is pretty raw and while I donâ€™t agree with his economic views, I can feel empathy for his pain of giving up someone that means so much to him.
Over the years we keep getting dogs with floppy ears. Floppy ears means the occasional ear infection and even more painful for the dog as they can progress to hematoma in the ear. A vet suggested we use ear medication for humans but a couple of years ago Maggi had a bad ear infection and this home remedy was suggested to us.
Mix all ingredients in the alcohol bottle & shake. (make sure you shake before every application).
Treatment: Fill ear with solution & massage gently for 30 seconds and wipe with a tissue. Fill a second time and just wipe without massaging. The dog will shake the excess out. Be careful, the Gentian Violet could stain. I use a eye dropper to fill the ear.
2 times per day for the first 2 weeks
1 time per day for the next 2 weeks
1 time per month thereafter
If you are concerned about the alcohol burning the inside of the ear (it could if the dog has been scratching its ear), then you can substitute the alcohol with witch hazel.
It has worked well on Maggi and a friendâ€™s lab in the past and it has saved us numerous trips to the vet. Hope it works for you.
This morning my boss one-upped my story about Maggi. A relativeâ€™s dog ran out onto a highway in Newfoundland and was hit by both a car and a dog and was killed by the double blow. He picked his dog up and put him in the back of the truck to be buried later. His daughter was understandably devastated. While driving home, he looked in the rear view window and what did he see but his â€œdeadâ€ dog standing up and wagging away. The dog must have been knocked cold but it survived the collision and was fine except for one thing. Itâ€™s tail no longer wagged from side to side but rather wagged in a circle. That dog is even tougher than Maggi.
Instead of calling my mandatory registration fee a Dog License, why not call it what it is, a Tax on Dogs. While you are at it, an off leash park with access to the river bank would be appreciated as well.