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eden's picture

I see dog people...

I was thinking about “reality” and how we perceive it, and I wanted to be fair and look into how other organisms perceive it too. In my perusing found a very interesting National Geographic article about dogs trained to help people with seizures. Here’s an excerpt:

“How dogs detect an oncoming seizure in a human is a mystery. Some trainers and researchers think they detect subtle changes in human behavior or scent before an episode occurs. There are no scientific studies, however, to prove these theories…Since 1996, the nonprofit organization has produced well over 25 seizure alert dogs that warn 15 minutes to 12 hours before an attack. The dogs exhibit attention-getting behaviors such as whining, pawing, or anxious barking.”


Now, I’m a science-type girl, but every once in a while I like to step out of my box and let my mind be a little bit flexible. I find the concept that dogs can “sense” a person’s aura or whatever, very fascinating. As a dog owner myself, I admit that I have noticed my dogs responding to my emotions before I even let them show. Let’s say I’m sitting on the couch and I feel really depressed or something, but I’m trying to ignore it by focusing on the Price is Right. Whereas usually my dogs keep to themselves, 9 times out of 10 if I’m feeling low one or both of my dogs will come over and put his/her head in my lap, or lick my hand or paw at me, and try to snuggle. I wonder sometimes how they know how I’m feeling. Is it a change in my behavior? Well, there really isn’t much variation involved when one is watching TV, it’s a pretty sit and stare routine whether you’re depressed or not. Or is there some kind of “aura” that human beings are not capable of “seeing” or sensing because we don’t have receptors for it? It’s not outside the range of possibility. Dogs usually make pretty accurate judgements about people too. Like, if I guy walks into my house and my dog starts growling or runs away, I put a lot of stock in that cause chances are he's a creep. Conversely, ALL dogs INSTANTLY love my uncle. He doesn't have to do anything but come through the door. Why is that? And what about babies? I love babies, and I have totally noticed that a baby can sense when a person is not comfortable with babies. They get all fussy and annoyed, even if the person is just nervously holding them. The baby can’t really comprehend the person’s words if they SAY they don’t feel comfortable, and even if the person isn’t doing anything but standing there holding the baby, the baby just senses the discomfort and gets upset. On the other hand, my brother might walk in to a room where I’m crying and not even notice. I mean, aren’t our brains so much bigger and cooler than dog brains or baby brains? Yet I wonder if our big, cool brains make us miss stuff by ignoring signals a bit TOO much, or rearranging the hierarchy of what is important when it comes to input. When we are walking down an empty street alone, do we trust our eyes or our “gut” as to our safety? Which SHOULD we trust? Maybe we really can sense emotions or “auras,” but we teach ourselves to ignore the signals because they are subtle or not easy to define. I mean, sometimes couples who have been together for a long time seem to be able to sense each others emotions pretty accurately, maybe because they are so focused on each other that they don’t ignore the little things that might usually get edited out.

It just strikes me that we often focus so much on thinking, that maybe we forget about the power of emotion… that is, if you believe that emotion exists apart from being a thought process. Haha, like I said, it’s hard to define.


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