Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cute Canines - Eyes That Engage You

My mother adored cats, and I was brought up with felines of all fur colors, temperaments ranging from cuddly to haughty, taking control as they do all over the house. But my wife hates cats, so it’s been dogs during my married life.

I’ve gotten to really like dogs, and I’m in good company. For example, British prime minister Winston Churchill in the movie The Gathering Storm is pictured one day sitting in the farm section of his country property pondering the animals around him. He comments to an approaching visitor:

“You know, a cat looks down upon a man, and a dog looks up to a man, but a pig will look a man in the eye and see his equal.”

I don’t know about pigs, the closest I’ve ever been to one is while eating ham or bacon. Can’t say that I’ve eaten cat or dog (knowingly at least, but then again I have been to parts of Asia).

The dogs that we’ve had have always been cute and devoted. What is it about dogs that makes them into “man’s best friend” as is generally accepted?

Of course, there’s the services they faithfully carry out for us: watchdogs, seeing-eye dogs, wartime duty, lifesaving, farm dogs effortlessly shepherding sheep, and much. much more.

But it was an episode of the outstanding Catalyst science program Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that put forward another fascinating insight. Catalyst features stories about dogs every now and again.

For example, there’s this story about dogs’ eyes:

It was thought, that like humans, all dogs have the same eye structure and see the world the same way. But Australian researchers have discovered that dogs had a completely different retina. Amazingly, it means different dogs see the world completely differently.

All very interesting, but it doesn’t answer my question of why, of all domestic animals, dogs seem so cute and appealing (compared with cats, especially).Dogeyebrows_small

It seems that there could be a good scientific reason for this. There’s now a plausible theory that it all has to do with dogs’ eyebrows.

Watch the video, and read the transcript.

Are you convinced?

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