Perhaps that is part of the dog’s role among us, to awaken humility,
to turn our minds back to the mystery of things, and open our hearts
to that most impractical of hopes in which all creation speaks as one.
— Matthew Scully: "Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals..."
 Samantha: the “Wolf in the Parlor…”

Samantha: the “Wolf in the Parlor…”

Challenging Societal Assumptions

Animal scientist and autism rights advocate Dr. Temple Grandin has written a number of acclaimed books, and in her recent Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals, avers that pet guardians, chicken farmers, livestock ranchers, and zookeepers hold responsibility to provide as much stimulation— and subject to as little stress—as possible for the animals under their care. For each type of animal, she informs how to accomplish this. Grandin encourages the reader to challenge our assumptions about animal contentment, and carefully draws a connection between the (decent and) humane treatment of farm animals and the physically and emotionally healthful life that household pets, as sentient beings, deserve.

Sentience is the ability to feel or perceive or experience subjectively, in context of an individual’s perspective or opinion, particular feelings, beliefs, and desires.[1]

In Eastern philosophy, sentience is a metaphysical quality of all things that require respect and care. The term is used in the study of consciousness to describe the ability to have sensations or experiences, called qualia by Western academic philosophers. Animal welfare advocates posture that animals are sentient in that they can feel pleasure and pain (dog guardians such as ourselves take this position), and as such, should be accorded some moral or legal rights. In that philosophy of animal rights therefore, any sentient being is entitled, at a minimum, to the right not to be subjected to unnecessary suffering.

 

basic needs:
“Freedoms”

Even a an intensive (industrial) animal production situation (the “factory farm,” otherwise known as concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO: where animals are regarded as merely commodities—“animal units”—and given no space to move… in the case of gestating pigs, not even enough room to turn around), Grandin identifies the basic needs/freedoms that animals should have:



  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst;

  2. Freedom from discomfort;

  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease;

  4. Freedom to express normal behavior; and

  5. Freedom from fear and distress.

 Dog used as a kitchen laborer, to power a primitive butter churn

Dog used as a kitchen laborer, to power a primitive butter churn

 
 

Grandin asserts that to create optimal situations for animals requires beginning with the animals’ emotions: getting that right leads to fewer problem behaviors, informing that “The only guide people have to judge whether an environment is good for an animal is the animal’s behavior, which gives us insight into its emotion.”

 

In the section “What Do Animals Need?” Grandin encourages challenging our assumptions about animal contentment and to honor our bond with other creatures. She writes that animals (for our discussion: dogs) have the same core emotion systems in the brain as humans—pointing out that, upon dissection of a pig’s brain, it is difficult to identify it as dissimilar to a human brain— and that when they are suffering mentally, they have the same goal as a person: to feel better, simply “to start having good emotions.” In particular, dogs processes fear, memories and spatial awareness in the same way as man, and the dog’s cognitive skills—the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses—are bundled similarly (however, the olfactory lobe that processes smells is considerably larger, and it is presumed that dogs associate scent with memories).[2]

Grandin describes the work of WA State University neuroscientist Dr. Jaak Panksepp, author of Affective Neuroscience,[2] who identified these core intra-personal and interpersonal systems as the “Blue-Ribbon Emotions” (each one: always capitalized by him) because they “generate well-organized behavior sequences that can be evoked by localized electrical stimulation of the brain.”

Panksepp describes that basic emotion emerges not from the cerebral cortex, associated with complex thought in humans, but from deep, ancient brain structures, including the amygdala and the hypothalamus.

 

 

The “Blue-Ribbon Emotions”

 Charles Riviere: 1872 (Charles Darwin: Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals)

Charles Riviere: 1872 (Charles Darwin: Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals)

POSITIVE EMOTIONS:

(should be stimulated)

[1] SEEKING

  • PLAY
    (to search and investigate)

  • LUST
    (sex and sexual desire)

  • CARE
    (maternal love & care-taking)

Charles Riviere (1872):
two views of the same dog, from Charles Darwin’s “The Expression
of the Emotions
in Man
and Animals”

 Charles Riviere: 1872 (Charles Darwin: The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals)

Charles Riviere: 1872 (Charles Darwin: The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals)

NEGATIVE EMOTIONS:

(should be avoided)

[2] RAGE

  • (energy to struggle/escape)

[3] FEAR

  • (survival is threatened)

[4] PANIC

  • (the social attachment system)

 

According to Panksepp, this means that when you stimulate (run a weak electrical current through) the “brain systems” for one of the core emotions, it always provokes the same response (behavior). The researcher can arouse coherent freezing, flight, and other defensive responses, as well as autonomic changes, with electrical and chemical stimulation along this extended circuit. These are specific neural systems.

Thereby, if you stimulate the anger system, the dog will growl and bite; if the fear system is stimulated, the dog will “freeze or run away” ; if electrodes prod the social attachment system, the animal will make “separation calls;” and if the seeking system is stimulated the animal sniffs, moves forward, and “explores” its environment.

Grandin posits that these emotions are primal, non-learned, instinctual reactions. She discusses the primary emotions motivating sentient animals in various locations: the wild, the so-called “enriched environments" of zoos, agribusiness (industrial) farms, ranches, and homes. The focus of her book is to explain recognition of physical and behavioral signs of both anxiety/stress and satisfaction, so that a better life can be had for any species. She teaches the necessity to learn what animals want and need—on their terms, not ours—and that in the end, “Usually—but not always—the more freedom you give an animal to act naturally, the better, because normal behaviors evolved to satisfy the core emotions.”

 
 Raiffe: almost indefatigable…

Raiffe: almost indefatigable…

 

 

[1] SEEKING:

“the basic impulse to search, investigate, and make sense of the environment”

SEEKING is a combination of emotions:

  1. desire for good;

  2. anticipation for acquiring or gaining good; and

  3. curiosity.

The desire component brings energy to pursue a goal (for example: food, shelter, sex… ); anticipation is expectation dependent on prior experience (as children look forward to Christmas); and curiosity is related to newness or novelty (in the way your dog might enjoy a change in venue from the same “boring”
walk taken every day).

 
 Desire… anticipation… curiosity: what’s underneath Jennings Beach?

Desire… anticipation… curiosity: what’s underneath Jennings Beach?

Grandin discusses the first stage of curiosity as the orienting response (example: noticing a strange noise, then pausing to decide what to do). New things stimulate the curiosity part of the SEEKING system (the dog thinks and decides whether to continue SEEKING: to attack; or if fearful, to run away); with curiosity about the part that they do not yet understand or have not experienced before (seeking a clarification).

 

Pankseep defines SEEKING as a pleasurable emotion, and which could be the platform for most of the basic emotional processes, since it is “the system that helps animals anticipate all sorts of rewards.” It can stimulate both positive and negative motivations: to advance or to retreat.

Grandin notes that Pankseep describes neurotransmission related to SEEKING in Affective Consciousness: Core Emotional Feelings in Animals and Humans (2005). In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter: a chemical released by neurons (nerve cells) to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine pathways. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that operates the SEEKING system, and the brain circuits that contain it are most responsive to anticipation of reward: the motivational component of reward-motivated behavior. Dopamine levels rise when a positive stimuli or unexpected reward is obtained.

Thus, the dog experiences a certain amount of pleasure from the activity itself, the release of dopamine activates the system when engaged in behaviors they have been bred for, like herding, stalking, chasing or running. Thus, the SEEKING system can lead to addictive pleasure-seeking behaviors, and when dogs cannot perform the behaviors that have a strong genetic basis, they may energy to other behaviors that may be considered as undesirable by their human guardian.

PLAY

(part of SEEKING): the brain system (located in the subcortex) which is associated with the spontaneous activity of the animal, that encourages “roughhousing” that dogs and humans engage in at comparable stages of their development. The PLAY system produces feelings of joyfulness, and although not well understood, is regarded as a sign of welfare: since an animal that is frightened, angry, or depressed does not play.

LUST

(part of SEEKING): sex and sexual desire.

CARE

(part of SEEKING): maternal love and caretaking.

 
 

 

[2] RAGE

Energy to struggle and escape capture

rage (2).jpg

RAGE: Dr. Pankseep believes RAGE is derived from the experience of being captured and held immobile by a predator (this can be duplicated by stimulating the sub-cortical brain area), and RAGE gives the animal fierce and volatile energy to struggle and escape (perhaps to startle the predator long enough to loosen its grip temporarily). Grandin observes that this is instinctual, and offers the comparison that if one holds a human baby’s arms, s/he will become furiously angry; commenting that frustration (mental restraint) is a mild form of RAGE. This might be seen in the dog who tries to escape when locked inside an enclosure, apartment, or house (even if that environment would be regarded as “roomy” or otherwise pleasant).

Thus, when the SEEKING system is aroused but cannot be satisfied, for example, excessive irritation, frustration, hunger or thirst, the RAGE system is activated. Lack of love and acceptance, restriction from pleasure, neglect or abuse, all have the potential to engender long lasting RAGE with damaging effects on the dog’s “personality.”

 

 

[3] FEAR

Survival is threatened

FEAR: the system triggered when the dog’s survival is threatened, whether physically, socially, or mentally. Grandin had previously written a paper (1997) which discussed that destruction of the amygdale section of the subcortex (the brain’s “fear center”) ceased the fear response.

In the wild, the FEAR system causes animals to build homes that shelter them (in various ways) from predators: otherwise, they would be eaten.

In the chapter “A Dog’s Life” (p. 53) Grandin discusses the difference between “classic” fear aggression and dominance aggression. In fear aggression, the dog is afraid and wants to get away; only if trapped, will he then bite. However, dominance aggression has its roots in anxiety: the dominant aggressive dog is anxious about his control over resources (examples are: food, toys, or his guardian) or behavior (desired freedoms), and does not run away because doing so will not solve his problem. In essence, dominance aggression should be regarded as anxiety aggression (citing: Dr. Karen Overall, Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals; see also, Carol Lee Benjamin, Dog Problems).

 Brownie: “I’ve been TELLING you I can swim, for a long time!”

Brownie: “I’ve been TELLING you I can swim, for a long time!”

Pankseep describes the nature of anxiety as a three distinct neural pathways for fear processing and external signaling, based on the desire to remain safe. His analysis is one of evolutionary stratification into instinctual, learned and thought-related processes, with progressively longer latencies. It is the basic emotion of fear as activity across a distributed network of brain areas, without assuming they are
unique to fear.

 



The Low Road

 Neural pathways

Neural pathways

the High road

The Royal Road

The low road: The low road to fear conditioning is thought to be fastest and completely subcortical (short-sensory inputs arising from the thalmus, incorporating midbrain and thalamic nuclei). When a dog has been previously exposed to a scary situation, that memory is now stored and the information will go directly from the thalamus to the amygdala. In this pathway, there are no decisions made: it is essentially subconscious. The dog will have an immediate emergency response. This is why it’s always best to take the time to desensitize the dog to anything that scares them.

The high road: Higher sensory-perceptual processing: it traverses sensory and higher cortices, and can encompass conscious perception. When the dog hears a sudden noise or sees a threatening object, the information is carried to the sensory cortex where cognitive processing will take place; enabling the dog to make a decision of the best action to take to stay safe. Pankseep describes that a dog that is generally “reactive” to other dogs is unlikely to display aggressive behavior when introduced in a large group of dogs, because the behavior that works when only one dog is around is simply too dangerous in this situation.

The royal road: An evolutionary created understanding of fear, decening from amygdala, bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST), and other telencephalic areas that converges on the periaqueductal gray (PAG) of the midbrain and coordinates many evolved behavioral, physiological, and primitive aspects of FEAR. It is at the core of anxiety disorders in dogs. So, when the animal is repeatedly exposed to stressful situations, it will develop neural pathways that will help it anticipate and possibly avoid the situation altogether.

 

 

[4] Panic

likely derived from physical pain

PANIC: Pankseep uses this to describe the social attachment system, and which may have derived from physical pain, likely that of baby animals (like humans) who cry when their mothers leave: the isolated baby whose mother does not return is probable to become depressed, (starve), and die. Stimulating (running a weak electrical current through) the brain section that regulates physical pain causes the dog to make “separation cries.”

Most dog behavior, therefore—whether pleasing or intolerable—is driven by these Blue Ribbon Emotions, and although Grandin's work has always focused on animal welfare, in this book she goes beyond physical well-being to inquire what makes an animal happy, examining theories beyond the expected biological, physical and emotional reactions.

winslow homer dog-on-a-log 1889.jpg

Emotions as informative


A Basis for Action

For those focused on canine behavior modification and training, and understanding that the dog’s brain is anatomically similar to humans, Pankseep’s analysis is especially important. Among the brain’s most important functions is to maintain homeostasis, the relatively stable conditions needed to for protecting core body organs and functions to sustain life (example: sweating to prevent overheating/shivering to generate heat). This regulation is mostly unconscious, however, when changes occur, they are consciously felt. That is: as humans, we would not ordinarily focus on the physical state of our feet; however, a person who falls and is injured would then be acutely aware of his feet because of pain.

In a pure “behaviorist approach,” only external events can influence behavior, regardless of feelings. In Pankseep’s analysis, however, emotions are truly informative: and act as reinforcement or punishment as a reflection of internal experience. It may follow then, that the person—or the dog—connects to and “learns” to avoid what made him fall and hurt his feet.

In this way, the same action can have dramatically different effect on the dog depending on the circumstances. His emotion is different when petted by a stranger from that triggered by petting from a person he has a relationship with. Similarly, a “correction” will be felt very differently when administered by a trainer (a relative stranger to the dog), than when given by the guardian who has a history with the animal. Likewise, a frightened or lonely dog thrust into a shelter environment may adapt and develop relationship with shelter workers surprisingly rapidly, as a means of survival in a threatening environment.

Emotion thus becomes the basis for most action, as it is the root of cognition: what gets the dog’s attention when something changes in the environment, and motivates decision-making and response (see also: Carl Safina, Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel (2015); and Dale Peterson, The Moral Lives of Animals (2011).

Dogs are without the ambivalence with which humans seem cursed. It is as if once a dog loves you, he loves you always, no matter what you do, no matter what happens, no matter how much time goes by. Dogs have a prodigious memory for people they have known. Perhaps this is because they associate people with the love they felt for them, and they derive pleasure from remembering this love.
— Jeffry Moussaiff Masson: Dogs Never Lie About Love
 Corky: Twilight traveler…

Corky: Twilight traveler…

 

Extreme mental anguish:
Abnormal Repetitive Behaviors

Among the issues Grandin examines are those surrounding what have been used to determine an animal's “happiness,” and what physical behaviors are utilized to judge their emotions in captivity/confinement; for example: abnormal repetitive behaviors.

Stereotypies

Abnormal repetitive behaviors (ARB), referred to as sterotypies, include pacing, oral fixations, repetitive rocking, etc., (such as displayed by elephants chained backstage at a circus, swaying back and forth; a tiger confined to a cage at a zoo): demonstrating extreme mental anguish.

Animals subjected to lifelong sentences in under-stimulating, unnatural, isolated, or abusive environments (such as circuses, zoos, or so-called “research”laboratories) develop these behaviors (partially) as a coping mechanism; with the attending boredom, frustration, and fear often manifesting in adverse physical health—even self mutilation—and often leading to parallel decline in mental heath, where animals may lose their sanity.

In the environment of a municipal shelter, dogs that are deprived of any means to express natural behaviors, and who cannot cope with the lack of exercise, stress, and fear of confinement, may develop these sterotypies or become fear-aggressive (often labeled “kennel crazy”), and as a result need to be transferred to “rescue” organizations; but, are more commonly euthanized.

Dogs, she observes, being “genetic wolves” that evolved (and were domesticated) to live and communicate with humans, by evaluating body language and tone of voice (for example:, barking is interpreted as a dog's attempt to mimic human language[3]); are hyper-social and have evolved a hypersensitivity to the actions of humans: to the extent that dogs are not only easy to train but can train themselves.

Grandin explains that that this is because our social reactions are reinforcing to dogs, and a dog becomes “happy” when his guardian is “happy”: over time, the dog notices what makes his guardian happy, and learns to behave in ways to evoke that response.

 

Dogs are not “Pack Animals”

 Canis lupis

Canis lupis

DNA sequencing and genetic drift studies of wolves (canis lupis) confirm that the gray wolf shares a common ancestry with the domestic dog, and are in fact not genetically distinct enough to be considered a separate species. They have been reclassified as Canis lupus familiaris, a subspecies of the Gray Wolf.

The Gray Wolf is the common ancestor of all domesticated dogs: genetically, dogs are wolves that cease development, that particular stage determining the breed: the breeds that develop the farthest are, as expected, the most “wolfish” (see below).

Wolves are apex predators (alpha predators: with no predators of their own), being the largest members of the Canidae family of carnivorous mammals (includes wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes, and the domestic dog). The Canidae family is divided into the "wolf-like" and “dog-like” animals of the tribe Canini and the “foxes” of the tribe Vulpini. Excepting the Bush Dog and the Racoon Dog, canids have relatively long legs and lithe bodies, adapted for chasing prey. All canids are digitigrade (walk on their toes), have non-retractile claws, and a dewclaw on their front feet.

Recent studies indicate that wolves don't actually live in large, alpha-led packs (with a prominent male who fights the others to maintain his dominance), but in nuclear families (the way people do): with a mother, father, and their children. The wolf cubs do not mate with each other; and the parents (the breeding pair) are dominant (controlling) in the way human parents are. Their roles remain constant as they age, and the cubs do not challenge the parents for dominance over the family.

Acceptance, forgiveness, loyalty, truthfulness and openness, devotion, and unquestioning, unconditional love are traits found in a family of wolves,
the dog’s pure cousin uncontaminated by human interference.
— Dr. Michael M. Fox: "Between Animal and Man"

The “alpha” males and females (the parents: those with the highest rank in a dominance hierarchy) share the leadership of their pack and then delegate that leadership to their maturing teenage pups, who are permitted to make decisions about where to hunt, and to move the pack. Ordinarily viewed as subordinate individuals, these young wolves soon undertake long solitary exploratory journeys during which they enjoy unlimited freedom “off-leash,” learning without the influence of their parents.

As peak physical abilities of wolves begin to decline at about three years of age, it is, in fact, these young wolves who do most of the pack’s hunting, and their parents, (the alpha wolves) wait for them. Just as human children go off to lead their own lives and start their own families, eventually, some of these young wolves disperse and become leaders of their own packs. These young wolves have lower stress hormone levels than do the alpha wolves of their pack, since they lead a relatively roaming, carefree life, not enduring the stress of guarding infant pups and defending the pack’s territory against intruders:




“The dog who is continually scolded and told what to do, or worse, never let off-leash, cannot roam about, explore, and make its own decisions.”

 Late 19th century patent application: dog powered “bicycle”

Late 19th century patent application: dog powered “bicycle”

 

Grandin disputes the convention that a well-behaved dog requires a human established as leader of the pack, observing that, in essence, advice to dominate your dog in this way is backwards. She describes that research on the social lives of wolves had always been conducted by observing groups of wolves in captivity (unrelated: put together by humans). The solution for the wolves had been a precise form of dominance hierarchy, wherin only one alpha pair is allowed to breed; until it can be dislodged by younger, stronger members. Dogs (genetic wolves) forced to live together in an unnatural environment such as a human domestic household would likewise develop these coping mechanisms. This isn’t necessary in the wild, since unrelated wolves would not be forced to live together.

 

With this framework, Grandin postures that what the domestic dog[4] (canis lupis familiaris) really needs is not a substitute pack leader but a substitute parent (since dogs are genetically juvenile wolves, who would live with their parents and siblings): to take charge, guide, teach good manners without spoiling… while remembering that a dog is a child who is never going to grow up; (the domestic dog has a 30% smaller developed brain than his wild ancestors).

 
 “The Old Shepherd’s Chief Mourner”: Sir Edwin Lanseer (1837)

“The Old Shepherd’s Chief Mourner”: Sir Edwin Lanseer (1837)

 
 
 

Not being a “pack animal” as we have thought, the dog needs a leader not because he will overtake the household as alpha if his guardian does not assert himself; but because he needs his guardian to be leader as parent. An over-arching theme of Grandin’s book is that realizing this, positive (reward-based) training rather than negative (punishment/aversion -based training) with dogs can be seen as a reflection of what makes successful parent-child relationships for humans, as a parent nurtures his child through stages of physical and mental development into adulthood.

 

And so, much as a parent would train a child to deal with frustration (in a dog, a mild form of RAGE), so does the conscientious dog guardian teach his dog to learn tolerance for a level of emotional (mental) frustration so that it does not turn to anger, and then RAGE. The simplest example is “wait,” which the dog learns to endure (reinforced impulse control/emotional restraint), but which turns to SEEKING/anticipation; and
subsequently, perhaps PLAY or CARE).

 Katie: beach blitz!

Katie: beach blitz!

The Most “Wolfish” Dogs

Grandin also discusses the interesting connection between facial features and dog behavior researched by Dr. Deborah Goodwin, who postures that the more “wolfy” a breed looks, the more grown wolf behaviors it has.

Focusing on the 15 most important commonly identified aggressive and submissive behaviors wolves use to communicate with each other during a conflict, Goodwin observed 10 dog breeds and charted these expressed behaviors. Aggressive behaviors included growling, teeth baring, (dominance)/“standing over” (one dog puts its head over the other dog's body, often behind the neck), and “standing erect” (stiff-legged, standing as tall as it can, with its back arched and its “hackles” up, known as piloerection); identified submissive behaviors included muzzle licking, eye aversion (the submissive dog slowly turns its head away), crouching, and the “passive submit,” where the dog lies on its back and exposes it s ano-genital area.

Piloerection is involuntary: the release of adrenaline causes muscles across the top of the back to his shoulder blades contract, puffing out the fur on top of them.

Goodwin found that the Siberian husky, which of the 10 breeds look the most like wolves, had all 15 behaviors; whereas Cavalier King Charles spaniels, which look nothing like wolves, had only 2. The correlation between looking like a wolf and acting like a wolf was strong across all 10 breeds she studied, with the German Shepherd and Shetland sheepdog likely exceptions that prove the rule because their facial features were deliberately bred into them starting with the sheep-herding stock (the German Shepherd was intentionally bred to look as much like a wolf as possible).

Goodwin theorizes that once a breed has lost a behavior one can't bring a behavior back simply by changing its appearance (so although looks and behavior go together genetically, they can also be separated genetically). Even with her exceptions, the overall order supported her hypothesis.

1. Cavalier King Charles spaniel:
2 wolf behaviors out of 15;

2. Norfolk terrier: 3 of 15;

3. French bulldog: 4 of 15;

4. Shetland sheepdog: 5 of 15;

5. Cocker spaniel: 6 of 15;

6. Munsterlander: 7 of 15;

7. Labrador retriever: 9 of 15;

8. German shepherd: 11 of 15;

9. Golden retriever: 12 of 15;

10. Siberian husky: 15 of 15.

 

 
nico.jpg

Isolation…
and
core emotions



Grandin distinguishes that for animals to be happy, their social needs need to be met, which involves stimulating the positive emotion SEEKING (which includes the subset emotions of PLAY, LUST, and CARE); and avoiding the negative emotions: RAGE, FEAR and PANIC. She argues that although dogs can be happy separated from their own species if their guardian is home all day, they are too socially oriented to spend long hours alone. She posits that in a day spent alone—for the “intensely socialdog whose basic psychological makeup derives happiness from pleasing his guardian—the empty house or yard is comparable to a zoo or prison: ultimately, all three negative emotions—RAGE, FEAR, and PANIC—are triggered.

The worst mental punishment a dog can be given is to be kept alone in a confined space where nothing varies...
— Desmond Morris


In The Emotional Lives of Animals (2007) author Marc Bekoff (Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the Univ. of CO; co-founder, with Jane Goodall, of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), delineates the boredom that grows from this solitariness as a primary (akin to “core”) negative emotion, and which leads to pain, fear, and anger (strikingly similar concepts to Pankseep's). Ensuring emotional enrichment, Bekoff contends, enfolds “tending to the heart.”

Even to live a better life (as an adopted pet), “[Dogs] give up a lot of freedom and instinctual pleasure, as well as their innate strategies for coping with stress and anxiety, in exchange for the comfort and care they get from humans.”

Author Jeffrey Mousseaieff Masson has written with unmatched sensitivity and eloquence about many animal species across a range of animal welfare topics, and put it with appropriate simplicity in Dog’s Never Lie About Love (1997): observing that there is no greater fear for the dog than to be left home alone (“The Great Dog Fear: Loneliness and Abandonment”). Masson describes the incessant barking of the solitary dog as the clearest demonstration of canine anguish and despair. Desmond Morris, exploring isolation in his 1987 book Dogwatching, seemed to be describing both SEEKING and PANIC emotions: “Dogs are social beings and they are also intensely exploratory. If they are deprived of companions—both canine and human— or if they are kept in a constrained or monotonous environment, they suffer. The worst mental punishment a dog can be given is to be kept alone in a confined space where nothing varies.”

 
 “Suspense”: Sir Edwin Lanseer (1834)

“Suspense”: Sir Edwin Lanseer (1834)

About this loneliness and boredom, Grandin reminds us that dogs are juvenile wolves, and juvenile wolves remain with their parents until they are at least two years old (that is: genetically, the dog should not be separated from his parents). As such, dog guardians should be mindful that although there are some breeds that cope better (have less PANIC emotion activation), and likewise, are many which are more juvenile (have greater emotion activation), necessitating heavier “parental” commitment to cope with the attending solicitude.

Grandin discusses the King Charles Spaniel as an example, which stops developing dominance and submission behaviors at a “wolf age” of just 20 days: too young for a wolf
to spend time alone.

To cope with the attachment need (which may manifest as separation anxiety), Grandin suggests (as many experts do) that guardians consider two dogs. Also, dog “daycare” or the off-leash beach would seem to represent opportunities that stimulate the SEEKING emotion, although she regards this as a “forced pack” environment, the success of which for a particular dog would depend on any genetic tendency toward aggression, a lack of hard-wired submissive manners, and lack of early socialization with other dogs. Grandin considers that the leashed dog often behaves quite differently (he may remain in a protective mode and more likely to react aggressively) than the off-leash dog (who may be in the PLAY phase of SEEKING); and that certain situations (“protect my owner”) are mapped in the brain's FEAR area; while others (off-leash equals PLAY) are mapped to the SEEKING area.

Enjoying Grandin's work, we see a scientific confirmation of what we instinctively knew of the benefit in the off-leash beach; but with profit from the impart of her knowledge and exploration of Dr. Pankseep’s theories, can defend it with more authority.

By using the MRI scan to push away the limitations of pure behaviorism, we can demonstrate through neurobiological evidence that dogs have emotions just like humans[2]. This means that as a society, we must reconsider their treatment as property: dogs, as other animals, should be afforded protection against exploitation, as it represents a violation of the basic right of self-determination.

We remind ourselves that dogs are “cousins,” genetically linked to wolves: sentient beings who, as they hunt, are capable of wearing down their prey over long distances, often spending nearly entire days roaming in protracted scavenging and exploratory missions. And as such, we can have a clearer vision of what comes naturally for a dog, what is important to offer them, what they might revel in every day from October through March at the beach if we take effort to share that opportunity with them... and what we knew in our hearts could be seen on those days.

 
 Honey: discretely watchful…

Honey: discretely watchful…



ENDNOTES:


[1] In 2015, in State of Oregon v. Amanda Newcombe (CC 110443303, March 10, 2015) the Oregon Supreme Court granted legal significance to the dog’s sentience—his capacity to experience feelings, and pain—reinstating a trial court’s ruling, that the warrant-less blood draw on an abused dog by an examining veterinarian (to confirm intentional starvation: by eliminating other possible causes of emaciation after the dog was seized), wasn’t prohibited under either Oregon law or the 4th Amendment. The defendant had tried to suppress the blood-draw evidence, arguing that because the dog was a pet, she was owned “property,” and as such, the blood draw was an illegal warrant-less search.

In an unanimous opinion, the court opined: “Reflected in those and other laws that govern ownership and treatment of animals is the recognition that animals ‘are sentient beings capable of experiencing pain, stress and fear,’” and so humans’ “dominion” over the animals also has nuanced contours, as do the humans’ privacy interests in the animals. Continuing: “…when Dr. Hedge [the veterinarian] tested Juno’s [the dog] blood, defendant had lost her rights of dominion and control over Juno, at least on a temporary basis.” Rather than merely property, the court found instead that, in a significant way, Juno was akin to a human child.

In 2017, 700,000 French citizens signed a petition France repudiating an archaic 1804 law that declared dogs were merely “movable goods”: a form of “personal property.” Dogs would henceforth be afforded certain rights as
“living beings.”

Philosopher and former education minister Luc Ferry signed the petition and said that the Napoleonic legislation, which placed animals on the same level as furniture, was ‘absurd’. He wrote: “No one has ever tortured a clock. Animals suffer, they have emotions and feelings. It is not a question of making animals subjects of the law… but simply of protecting them against certain forms of cruelty.”

The upgraded status of dogs will also mean that couples can fight for shared custody in divorce cases and owners whose pets are run over by a negligent driver will be able to claim compensation for the suffering caused. France’s former trade minister, Frédéric Lefebvre, suggested that the country’s inheritance law would also change to allow owners to leave their estates to their pets.

[2] Affective neuroscience is the study of the neural mechanisms of emotion: this interdisciplinary field combines neuroscience (scientific study of the nervous system, enfolding function, structure genetics, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, pathology and evolutionary history) with the psychologically-oriented study of personality, emotion, and mood.

See also: Panksepp and Lucy Biven, The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) (2012); and Gregory Berns, What It's Like to Be a Dog: And Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience (2017).

In addition to being structurally similar to the human brain, MRI studies on dogs have shown that the same sections of our brains respond when exposed to various stimuli; see: Gregory Berns, How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain (2013).

[3] Among examples, see also: Stanley Coren, (Animal Noise or Animal Speech?) in: How to Speak Dog, (2000); pgs. 45-81;

[4] Historically, domestication of the dog occured in southwest Asia as early as 10,000BC; (Hellmut Epstein, The Origins of the Domestic Animals of Africa; 1971). It is estimated that dogs were domesticated, roughly 15,000 years ago, and that this would have coincided with the development of agriculture and the attending expansion in human territory (a shift in human lifestyle in the form of established human settlements). Permanent settlements would have coincided with a greater amount of disposable food (the food source of early domesticated dogs) and would have created a barrier between wild and anthropogenic (created by humans) canine populations (Adam Miklósi, Dog behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition, 2007). See also: Katherine M. Rogers, First Friend: a History of Dogs and Humans; 2005.

 
(Man’s) glorious ability to use words allows us to discuss morality and to debate, endlessly, obscure issues, to write down rules and laws, to comment on and amend them, to think of new areas where old truths might be relevant. But our general system of morality is not even our ability to manipulate words. We don’t behave in good and bad ways because we listen to the folly or wisdom of our outer voices, but rather because we listen to our inner voices: those desires, and inclinations, embedded, through ancient evolutionary processes, in the emotional parts of our brain. Those parts evolved into much of their present form long before the separate evolution of our own species. They are parts, therefore, that we share in common with animals...
— Dale Peterson: The Moral Lives of Animals
 
 Carter: careful observer…

Carter: careful observer…

 

“ …(Spoken) language enables humans to formalize or concretize moral rules—to write them down and refer to them as if they’re cut in stone—and that brings the possibility of reinforcing loyalties through formal systems and thereby expanding social group size.

…Language can help reveal the invisible structures of human morality. We can read the rules, talk about problems and choices. But we can also recognize that our spoken and written words express unspoken and unwritten universes of urge and inclination and inhibition—the complex, underlying, invisible mental structures that together make up the human moral psychology. Invisible worlds of a parallel kind exist among a large number of animals, but since they lack language, their underlying structures will be made visible through behavior.”

—Dale Peterson: The Moral Lives of Animals