Last night the PBS station in my area showed the Nature episode "Why We Love Cats and Dogs." I was touched by the stories of how people's bonds with pets can sustain them through difficult times. Most poignant to me was the story of Jerry, a German Shepherd dog, whose family really made the most of his short time with them after Jerry was diagnosed with cancer.
The show raised fascinating issues about the nature of empathy between humans and pets. Among other nuggets in this episode, Marc Bekoff speculated that cells in the brains of humans and other animals, called "mirror neurons," allow us to appreciate each others' states of mind (what researchers call "theory of mind").
As I type at my keyboard, what Kasey knows is that if he keeps dropping toys at my feet, then I will probably turn away from the keyboard and.....
I'm looking more like my dogs every day — it must be the shaggy fringe and the ears.
- Christine McVie (b. 1943), musician
Canine Social Cognition – What Do We Know?
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