Monday, April 20, 2015

Sometimes Your Dog Stares At You For Reasons Other Than Lust For That Cookie You're Eating

My canine companion Jackson the Cocker
Spaniel gives me a good stare in this photo from January,
when we were hanging out together in
a warm house on a cold day.  
I had to call in sick to work this morning, something I hate to do.

No worries. I have a mild medical condition that sometimes acts up briefly, to the point where I'm too sick to do much of anything for several hours. Then by the next day, I'm totally fine.

With that medical report over, I will now observe that when I was in bed all morning, not feeling well, one of my dogs, Jackson, was next to me on a pillow, staring at me. And I stared back.

Jackson seemed happy just being next to me. Also, I began to feel better with Jackson there and he might well be the reason why. There's scientific proof.

Japanese researchers say when dogs and their human companions stare at each other, it's mutual beneficial. The staring literally changes brain chemistry.

According to the Associated Press via Huffington Post:

"The brain response is an increase in the levels of a hormone called oxytocin. Studies in people and animals indicate this substance promotes social bonding, such as between parent and infant or between two lovers.

"Analysis showed that owners whose dogs looked at them longer in the first five minutes had bigger boosts in oxytocin levels. Similarly, dogs that gazed longer got a hormone boost, too."

Of course, the good feeling you get staring or resting with Fido is no news to any person who lives with a friendly dog. But the study cited by the Associated Press goes a long way toward explaining the scientific reasons why the moments I have with my dogs Jackson and Tonks are so enjoyable for all involved.

According to the AP: 

"The new work is the first to present a biological mechanism for bonding across species, said researcher Larry Young of Emory University.

Young, who studies bonding behavior, said the relationship between people and dogs is special. Human love can lost its initial exhilaration over time, he said, but he hasn't seen that with the dogs he has owned for 10 years. 

'When I come home from work every day, they are just as excited to see me now as they were when I got them,' Young said."

Note to my husband: As much as I love Jackson and Tonks, my initial exhilaration upon seeing you has not waned over the years. But you were at work when I wasn't feeling well this morning, so I settled for the dogs.

Of course, when Jackson and Tonks are staring at me, it's often because they want to eat what I'm having. But it's nice to know they might occasionally have other motivation, too.

I'm still feeling just slightly under the weather as I write this on a dreary Monday afternoon. And both Jackson and Tonks are acting a little lonely at the moment.

Time for another staring session among the three of us, I guess.

No comments:

Post a Comment