THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
Most dog owners will tell you the same things: Canines have an ability to relate to people in a way that no other animal can. A dog can not only tell when you're feeling down, it will also try to comfort you. A dog is capable of feeling love for its owner. Some have scoffed at these notions over the years, but scientific research is now suggesting that dog lovers are correct. This is the subject of Dogs Decoded, a "Nova" special that is also available on DVD.
Among the amazing revelations in this documentary is that eye tracking software is now revealing that dogs register faces the same way humans do. This means that they may, in fact, be capable of reading emotions via facial cues. Other scientists are looking into similar canine intelligence. One is shown working with both a chimp and a dog. When a treat is hidden under one of two cups, the dog will go to whichever cup the scientist points to. The monkey typically doesn't understand the gesture. Also discussed is the way that dogs have been domesticated. Descendants of wolves, they have grown tamer and more affectionate over time. In Siberia, an experiment has been going on for decades to look into the domestication process. Silver foxes have been bred specifically to be tamer than normal. What researchers found was that when only the least aggressive members of a litter were allowed to breed, it took just three generations for the animals' temperaments to tame.
Dogs Decoded offers a fun, fascinating glimpse into the study of canines, as well as what we continue to learn about them. If you've ever had and loved a dog, this DVD is certain to be of great interest to you. It makes a compelling argument that dogs may, in fact, be the most intelligent species outside of homosapians, capable of doing things that other animals simply cannot. I've had multiple dogs over the years, and Dogs Decoded made me realize that there's a reason they're known as man's best friend.
To order a copy, go to their website or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.