The Thoughtful Animal


If this doesn’t tug on the heartstrings, at least a little bit, you may not be quite human.

As with yesterday’s post, I don’t know where this came from or who wrote it. If you do, please let me know so I can properly attribute it. It is again, a very “tall” image, so I’ve placed it behind the fold.

Click to enlarge.



  1. #1 Yaz
    January 5, 2011

    That made me very sad. πŸ™

    There was also some guilt thrown in somewhere, too.

  2. #2 Martin
    January 5, 2011

    OK, I’m crying. You happy now?

  3. #3 Jason G. Goldman
    January 5, 2011

    If you really wanna cry, then read this. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  4. #4 nixscripter
    January 5, 2011

    Let’s see if I get punched for asking a technical question in a sentimental thread.

    The few times I did come to visit you,
    you’d be all sulky,
    like you were angry with me
    “the F*CK you BEEN dude!?”
    you seemed to glare

    Just curious: do you have any studies on Canine cognition that go beyond stimulus recognition and social interaction? Or have we gotten that far yet?

  5. #5 Jason G. Goldman
    January 5, 2011

    @4: Not quite sure what you mean by your question… could you elaborate a bit?

  6. #6 hematophage
    January 6, 2011

    Gah. I had to give my puppies a long cuddle after reading that.

  7. #7 Hope
    January 6, 2011

    This is, perhaps, cruel, but since we’re all bummed out anyway…

    The House Dog’s Grave (for Haig, an English Bulldog)

    I’ve changed my ways a little; I cannot now
    Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
    Except in a kind of dream; and you,
    If you dream a moment,
    You see me there.

    So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
    Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
    And you’d soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
    The marks of my drinking-pan.

    I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
    On the warm stone,
    Nor at the foot of your bed; no,
    All the nights through I lie alone.

    But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
    Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
    And where you sit to readβ€š
    And I fear often grieving for meβ€š
    Every night your lamplight lies on my place.

    You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
    To think of you ever dying.
    A little dog would get tired, living so long.
    I hope that when you are lying
    Under the ground like me your lives will appear
    As good and joyful as mine.

    No, dears, that’s too much hope:
    You are not so well cared for as I have been.
    And never have known the passionate undivided
    Fidelities that I knew.
    Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided…
    But to me you were true.

    You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
    I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
    To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
    I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.
    –Robinson Jeffers, 1941.

    (I am happy to say that I took a semester off from school to be with my dog when he died. It wasn’t the only reason I did it, but it was the best one)

  8. #8 nixscripter
    January 6, 2011

    @5: To be more specific, I am curious how much work has been done into the deeper thought processes of dogs (and their non/existence). These are things like ability to plan and imagine, as well as have complex emotions. To put it another way, we humans seem to assume a lot; how much of that has been backed up by data?

    Most of the work I have seen is out of date, and seems to fall into one of two categories.

    First, there are experiments that seem to show very general reactions, like the Maier and Seligman experiment on learned helplessness. It is reasonable to believe the reaction of the dogs who became “depressed” was emotional, but that is an assumption. Also, deciding what this says about their cognitive abilities is still speculative.

    Second, there are experiments analyzing canine social behavior, like by Scott and Fuller. However, these do not focus on what the actual process of the social behavior is. For example, if a dog shows submission, which of these happened: (a) he saw the other dog being aggressive, and became submissive as a habit; or (b) he saw the other dog being aggressive, consciously evaluated the situation, and chose to be submissive. The difference, of course, is in what was “in the mind” of the dog.

    I don’t know the state of research in this area, and perhaps what I am asking is still too difficult to demonstrate. But you seem like the right guy to ask.

    Any references you can provide me to get some insights would be useful.

  9. #9 Jason G. Goldman
    January 6, 2011

    @8: I’ll spend some time thinking about this. With respect to social cognition and social behavior, some of what you’re looking for I may have already written about – check out the “dog” and “social cognition” categories – you can find the list of categories in the left sidebar. I imagine you’re looking more for dog-dog social interactions than dog-human social interaction, though? There’s somewhat less work on that, at least within the fields of psychology and neuroscience. I’ve covered a bit of it, though, here.

  10. #10 Rogue Epidemiologist
    January 6, 2011

    Shall I guess you’ve watched the ‘Jurassic Bark’ episode of Futurama?

    I’m a cat person, btw.

  11. #11 Maryn
    January 6, 2011

    Screen’s blurry. Dammit.

  12. #12 oCala doCTor
    January 7, 2011

    Big boys aren’t supposed to cry unless we get punched in the gut…What’s the big idea!

  13. #13 Inky
    February 8, 2011

    I got all teary at work. I’m going to give my cowardly pooping peeing panicking yet lovable dog a big hug, and an extra big hug for my old cat, too.

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