Patterico's Pontifications


Puppy Dog Eyes

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 6:44 am

[Headline from DRJ]

Dogs may have evolved with ‘puppy dog eyes’ to communicate with humans, study finds:

If you’ve ever fallen for the old ‘puppy dog eyes’ trick, don’t feel bad. A new study has found dogs evolved new facial muscles specifically to tug at your heartstrings over the course of thousands of years of domestication.

Unlike wolves, dogs have a muscle responsible for raising the inner eyebrow “specifically for facial communication with humans,” according to research published in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Monday.

I love puppy dogs and their puppy dog eyes.


19 Responses to “Puppy Dog Eyes”

  1. Oh, I’ve known that since I was a kid and read Jim Kjelgaard’s Fire Hunter. Cave man kills mama wolf for dinner and a new fur coat for his wife, and brings the live cub to the cave “for later”. Come dinner-time some days or weeks later when the hunting has been poor, he reaches for the cub to “prepare” it for the pot, and his wife stops him. She has become attached to it. So it becomes part of the family.

    nk (dbc370)

  2. That comment is much more effective than my post. I should make your comment the post and my post the comment.

    DRJ (15874d)

  3. I’m sure you’ve read Jim Kjelgaard too, DRJ, if not that particular book.

    nk (dbc370)

  4. he reaches for the cub to “prepare” it for the pot, and his wife stops him.

    Caveman nk laughs and tells her it will be 50,000 years until she has a say in the matter.

    Dave (1bb933)

  5. Never had your wife say “Why don’t we order out, tonight?”, Dave?

    nk (dbc370)

  6. I don’t know about special muscles, although that seems to be a credible proposition.

    But every time I look at my Husky’s face, and the fur coloration of the rest of his body, I imagine him crouching in about two feet of snow, stalking a caribou. If he stuck his head up to see whether his packmates were ready to pounce with him, or to signal them that he was ready, those black bands around his eyes, against the white fur of his face, would make his eyes very noticeable to his packmates even from a considerable distance.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  7. What a stunning dog. That isn’t the same dog you used to blog about, is it? He was just as beautiful. My breed choice (cocker spaniels) isn’t as striking but they are lovable.

    DRJ (15874d)

  8. This is a nice post, DRJ.

    nk (dbc370)

  9. Stunning photo of a gorgeous dog, Beldar.

    mg (8cbc69)

  10. I forgot to respond earlier: I don’t remember reading Fire Hunter but I remember some of the other titles. I was a Hardy Boys and Agatha Christie fan, plus whatever my Mom brought home from the library.

    DRJ (15874d)

  11. Sweet dog, Beldar.

    My blue heeler can communicate surprisingly well with facial expressions. Sometimes it’s as though she’s about to start talking. Nature can be cruel, but it can also be miraculous.

    Dustin (6d7686)

  12. No, DRJ, that was his predecessor, Weiss, who was all-white. When she finally got so old and feeble that she could no longer stand up on her own, I had her put down; she died quietly in my arms; and I bawled like a newborn as I left the vet’s. All dogs go to heaven, it’s not just a movie title.

    Cyber is also a rescue dog, but via a very unusual path:

    He was bought as a puppy by a retired Alvin policeman with the intention of raising him to the age they could donate him to the department for training as a drug-sniffing dog. But as soon as he was big enough, he started escaping at every opportunity, running for miles through the pastures, chasing livestock and having a fine old time, and largely fending for himself. But although he’s an escape artist, he’s also very affectionate and social, and so some other family would lure him in with food and pats, then take him back to the retired policeman.

    This happened three or four times, and then finally, they gave up — and so they filed a casualty claim on their homeowners’ insurance (which I’m surprised to learn was paid; maybe they had some special coverage?), so the next time someone tried to return him, they politely declined, rather than returning the insurance money. Those other folks couldn’t keep him contained either, and he spent short periods enjoying the hospitality of two or three other households over about a 15 mile radius for at least a couple of months.

    Someone finally brought him to a dear friend of mine who lives in Rosharon, who has a big yard and lots of other pets, and who was known among locals as being willing to take in abandoned animals. He, in turn, asked around at the local cafes and learned his back story, as part of which he was directed to some of the families who’d temporarily sheltered him, and ultimately back to the retired Alvin police officer — all of whom said they’d be glad for him to have a good home, but they couldn’t handle him.

    My friend, knowing Weiss had died about a year earlier, immediately called me and said, “How would you like an almost-grown Siberian Husky, slightly underfed but otherwise pretty healthy?”

    “Does he have blue eyes?” I asked.

    “Bluer than you could possibly believe,” said my friend, “You can call him anything you want, but I’ve been calling him Cyber with a C, like cyberspace. It’s a pun on ‘Siberian’ too. You need to come meet this dog today.”

    I got there and fell in love with him instantly. I was loading him into the passenger side of my car, with the passenger door open and my friend’s wife holding his leash. I walked around to the driver’s side and opened that door, but unfortunately my friend’s wife took that as her cue to let go of the leash.

    Like a shot he was out the driver-side door and into the adjoining fields, where he proceeded to merrily chase a group of about a dozen horses for the next quarter hour: Not biting, just enjoying pretending to be a wolf who could make horses run away. One last romp of freedom! When he was finally winded or bored, he slowed down long enough for that property owner to snag his dangling leash, and I carefully loaded him up and took him home.

    The next day at his vet’s check-up — and ID chip implantation! — the vet asked, “Is he aggressive?”

    I said, “I don’t think so. He seems to love everyone. I think everyone has always been so nice to him that he thinks everyone loves him.”

    But after they’d done an exam, the vet brought me his full-body x-ray: “Not everyone loves him. These opaque blobs over his hip and ribcage? Those are pellets. He’s been shot at least twice, maybe more, but these two are the only ones that healed over. Best to leave them alone now.”

    (I’m thinking some time when he was hungry, or just out for kicks, he found a chicken coop, which made him un-beloved of some farmer or rancher. Could’ve been worse — a shotgun.)

    It took maybe 12 hours to house-train him: I already had doggie doors that Weiss had used to come and go between the house and backyard at her pleasure, and (perhaps smelling her old poops) he had no trouble adjusting to that. He’s been fed back to a healthy condition. He has a big back yard that he patrols regularly, lest some wandering possum think he holds any easement rights-of-passage over his domain (I’ve now seen the “possum playing dead” trick about a dozen times now; always fools him.) But between the reliable food and water, the independence he still has via the doggy doors, and of course, the reliable affection, he’s decided that being my housemate is a pretty good gig for a dog: No more escapes, nor even serious escape attempts.

    He doesn’t think he’s my pet; he’s by no means a typical rescue dog. He’s abundantly affectionate, magnificent at staying out of trouble (goes weeks at a time without having to be scolded), but not at all obedient. He’s the most independent animal I’ve ever seen. And I think he thinks we’re housemates. Which is true. There’s no doubt that he rescued me, but he probably thinks he just decided to hang out, and hasn’t changed his mind yet.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  13. (Wrong tags around the predecessor’s name; here’s the late and still beloved Weiss.)

    Beldar (fa637a)

  14. Oh — and the air conditioning. He likes the air conditioning during Houston summers.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  15. You two are meant to be together, and I was remembering Weiss and your wonderful walks. We humans can have special bonds with pets that almost equal our feelings for our children.

    I started fostering animals about 4 years ago and it was a comfort after we had to put down our last cocker earlier this year. He was my favorite of all the dogs I’ve owned. I was worried how I would handle it but, amazingly, my vet made it a good experience and now all my memories are good ones. He has a system he has perfected (over his decades of practice) that takes about an hour: It sounds like it would be hard but it gives owner and pet time to say goodbye. Most vets wouldn’t spend the time but I have a very special vet.

    DRJ (15874d)

  16. Good for you and your vet, DRJ.

    Thanks to those who have complimented Cyber’s photo.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  17. Remember Petey from “Little Rascals”?

    mg (8cbc69)

  18. Thank you, nk.

    DRJ (15874d)

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