This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dogs Are People Too

I wrote in February about the death of our beloved German Shepherd, Max. He was a genuine member of the family, loved by my wife and I, our kids, grandkids, and everyone else who ever met him. His death left a genuine void in our lives, but a few days ago, when four of our grandchildren were in town, we all picked out a new member of the family. He is a one year old German Shepherd, saved from an early death by Coastal German Shepherd Rescue of San Diego, and we are very lucky indeed to have him. He is very well mannered and wants to please--a good boy in every way--but also very smart and energetic. We named him Larry, after the lifetime friend who told us about the rescue program and so put us in our Larry's path. 

I think we have all experienced that oxytocin rush that we now know is experienced by both dogs and people in the bonding process, as described in a research article in Science a few months ago:
If you think of your dog as your “fur baby,” science has your back. New research shows that when our canine pals stare into our eyes, they activate the same hormonal response that bonds us to human infants. The study—the first to show this hormonal bonding effect between humans and another species—may help explain how dogs became our companions thousands of years ago.

Dogs are already renowned for their ability to interact with humans. It’s not just the walks and the Frisbee catching; canines seem to understand us in a way that no other animal does. Point at an object, for example, and a dog will look at where you’re pointing—an intuitive reading of our intentions (“I’m trying to show you something”) that confounds our closest relatives: chimpanzees. People and dogs also look into each other’s eyes while interacting—a sign of understanding and affection that dogs’ closest relatives, wolves, interpret as hostility.
It is thus very hard to understand how someone could essentially "throw away" any animal, but then we think of stories of human parents who for a whole range of reasons abandon their children either deliberately or through neglect, and we are reminded to love our dogs and other children that much more.

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