Sunday, April 7, 2013

Surprising Dog Facts!

Perfect Moment:
Today’s perfect moment occurred while Jeb and I sat beside each other on the couch.  For a while, he was engrossed in gazing out the window with his back to me. Then, without warning, he stretched his neck and tipped his head so that, like a little black giraffe, he gazed at me upside down.  Then, ever so gracefully, he tipped backwards from a sitting position, landing in my lap and arms.

I’ve never been around another dog who does this but Jeb has since he was a puppy and it always moves me to a state of loving wonder.  It reminds me of some of the team-building trust games humans play where two or more people catch someone who falls backwards into their arms. 

Dog Factoids:
  • Contrary to popular opinion, dogs do have sweat glands all over their bodies.  Other than the sweat glands on their noses and footpads, however, most dogs don’t perspire the way humans do and the majority of their sweat glands function to help keep their skin healthy, rather than for thermoregulation.
  • At least one breed of dog, the American Hairless Terrier, does sweat all over, and is reported to do so when stressed or overheated.
  • Dog’s footpads, just like your own feet, sweat.  Just like your feet, they have a complex mixture of yeast & other bacteria that produce a distinctive foot odor.  Unlike humans, most dogs manage to cultivate a warm yeasty paw odor that folks associate with crackers or chips.  Alas, sweaty human feet don’t tend to smell like snack food!   
  • A few years ago, a small study using 30 mixed breed family pets discovered that the direction a dog wags has a strong correlation with the dog's emotional response to current stimuli. Using video tapes and a variety of stimuli, the researchers concluded that when the dogs had a positive response (friendly, happy, eager), their wagging occurred mostly to the right of center (from the dog's perspective or a view from the back).  Conversely, when the dogs had a negative response (i.e. aggressive, fearful, cautious), most of their wagging occurred to the left of center.
  • Dogs do not see the world in black & white. They see fewer colors than typical humans perceive, much like a person with red/green color blindness. Additionally, the colors dogs see are more muted than what we see.
  • Although dogs are missing out on some of the colors we enjoy, they have far better night vision than humans because they have a mirror-like layer of tissue behind their retinas called a tapetum.  The tapetum is also the cause of "eyeshine", see photo below.


Some of the easiest colors for dogs to see and differentiate between are yellow and blue.  Maybe some pups will buy my short memoir!

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