Animalia · Bio · Performativity

Dogs Smell Time

Can you smell time? Your dog can.

On a very basic level, so can you: When you crack the lid on that old quart of milk, tentatively sniff and—peeyouu!—promptly dump that foul stuff down the sink, you are, in effect, smelling time. Specifically, you can smell that far too much time has elapsed since that milk was fresh.

But a dog can smell time with a sophistication that puts our simple sniffers to shame. “Odors exist in time, and dogs perceive that,” explains cognitive scientist and canine researcher Alexandra Horowitz of Columbia University. “Dogs use smell to ‘tell time,’ in some sense, because a more recently laid odor smells stronger, and an older odor smells weaker.”

A dog’s nose is a notoriously sensitive piece of equipment. With up to 300 million olfactory receptors compared to our lousy 5 million, a dog can detect a single teaspoon of sugar dissolved into a million gallons of water, the equivalent of two Olympic-sized swimming pools. Unlike us, dogs are able to take in scent continuously, even as they exhale. What’s more, a dog’s nostrils are smaller than the distance between them, effectively giving dogs “stereo” sniffing power that carries subtle grades of information, including directionality.

Read full article at Strange Attractor

Animalia · Human-ities · Public Space

No, I Do Not Want to Pet Your Dog

The other day I walked into my gym and saw a dog. A half-dozen people were crowding around him, cooing and petting. He was a big dog, a lean and muscular Doberman with, I later learned, the sort of hair-trigger bark you’d prize if you wanted to protect a big stash of gold bullion.

“This is Y.,” the dog’s owner said. No explanation was offered for the pooch’s presence, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to have a dog in a place usually reserved for human beings. Huh, I thought.

The dog came up to me, because in my experience that’s what dogs do when you don’t want them to come up to you. They get up real close, touching you, licking you, theatrically begging you to respond. The dog pushed his long face toward my hand, the canine equivalent of a high five. And so—in the same way it’s rude to leave a high-fiver hanging, especially if the high-fiver has big teeth and a strong jaw—I was expected to pet him. I ran my hand across his head half-heartedly. I guess I was fairly sure he wouldn’t snap and bite me, but stranger things have happened—for instance, dogs snapping and biting people all the time.

Anyway, happily, I survived. But wait a second. Come on! Why was this dog here? And why was no one perturbed that this dog was here? When this beast was barking at passersby through the window as we were all working out, why did no one go, Hey, just throwing this out there, should we maybe not have this distracting, possibly dangerous animal by the free weights?

Excerpt from an article written by y Farhad Manjoo at SLATE. Continue THERE

Animalia · Science

How dogs interpret human communication

Sit a dog in front of a television screen, and it may not always look intently at what it sees. But show a person on that screen who looks directly at the dog and says “hello,” and the canine will pay attention. In fact, a new study shows that a dog will go so far as to follow the gaze of the human onscreen when he or she looks to one side or the other – something not even chimps can do.

Researchers already knew that dogs were attuned to human communication signals. In addition to their obvious facility at learning commands, dogs, like young children, can signal where a human puts an object if the human feigns ignorance, even if it’s been moved, and they follow the direction of our finger when we point at things, a task chimps fail at. But are dogs capable of following more subtle cues, such as our shifting gaze?

To find out, cognitive scientist Erno Teglas of the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, adapted a technique that had previously been used only on children. In one example of the test, a child watches a woman on a video screen who has toys on either side of her. The woman then either looks straight toward the camera and says “hello” in a high-pitched voice known to engage children or looks downward and says “hello” in a more dull, low-pitched voice. Then the person looks to the toy on one side or the other for 5 seconds. Whether a child also looks at the toy on the same side is recorded.

Written by Sarah C.P. Williams, Washington Post. Continue HERE