Sunday, March 31, 2013

Looking for Love? Get a Dog!

If you're a handsome young man, and you approach strange women on the street, you're way more likely to get their phone numbers if you have a dog with you.
Even being photographed with a dog makes you more attractive!
The experiment supporting this assertion was done by Dr. Nicholas Gueguen, from the University of South Brittany in July of 2007.

They had a panel of 3 young women choose the best-looking of their male volunteers.

His mission was to approach 240 randomly chosen young women about his own age with the following proposition: "...I think you're really pretty...If you'll give me your phone number, I'll call you later and we can have a drink together..."

Half the time, he was alone. Half the time, he had a dog with him, a medium-sized black mutt.

After approaching each woman, he would gaze at her, smiling, for 10 seconds. If she refused, he'd say, "I guess it's not my day." If she gave her phone number, he told her about the experiment (except in one case, where he called her back and actually ended up marrying her*.)

When he didn't have the dog, he was successful only about 9% of the time. All but 11 women turned him down. When he had the dog, 34 women (28.3% of them) gave him their number.

Other experiments have shown (and the Gueguen team tend to agree) that a light colored dog, especially a puppy, would have brought even better results.

In other experiments with the black mutt, when male and female volunteers approached strangers for bus money, they were more likely to get money, and got more money, if they had the dog with them. If they dropped money at the bus shelter, people were more likely to help them pick it up when they had the dog.

Even if you're not young and handsome, a dog is probably an asset to romance, and a golden retriever puppy will make it a slam-dunk.
*The Genius of Dogs, Brian Hare and Vanessa Wood, Dutton, N.Y., 2013, p. 270

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Silence of Dogs in Cars

Photographer Martin Usborne feels sorry for dogs left locked in cars.

You can see his photographs at the Little Black Gallery in London until April 27, or you can buy his book from Amazon.

These are a few of my favorites.

He didn't find these dogs in car parks (i.e. parking lots). He carefully staged all the photographs. Either the dogs he chose are really good actors, or he left them in the cars until they looked pitiful enough to make a heart-rending picture.

Here's a picture of him:

Send Your Dog to Duke University!

If your dog is academically inclined, you should have him fill out an application to be a student at the Canine Cognition Center at Duke University. Here's a link for the application:

He doesn't have to have an IQ of 180 or a 4.9 grade point average or be a star athlete. In fact, whether he's a best-of-show purebred or a mutt that you found wandering in the streets, he has a very good chance of being accepted, although probably not right away.
Prof. Brian Hare & Student
Animal, Vegetable, or Mineral?
The Canine Cognition Center, under the direction of Dr. Brian Hare, is studying dog psychology, how dogs think and learn, and how dogs are related to the evolution of our own species. The scientists also hope to improve training programs for dogs who work with humans.

They expect the study to last for years and to involve as many different dogs as possible.

Dr. Hare has started another study, the Dognition Project, which aims to collect information from dog owners all over the world. He launched an app last month (which you can buy for $60) that enables dog owners to record the results of games that they play with their dogs. He suggests that in a single weekend as many as 10,000 - 50,000 people could contribute data to the study. If that happens, he'll not only create lots of jobs to tabulate and interpret the information, but at $60 a person, he'll have plenty of money for their salaries.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dogs Who Eat Fat Smell Better

According to the story, a woman once said to Samuel Johnson (famous for writing an 18th century dictionary), "Sir, you smell!"
To which Johnson is supposed to have replied, "No, Madam. You smell. I stink."
Samuel Johnson
A recent study has found that a diet high in fat helps dogs to smell better, although it doesn't keep them from stinking.
My favorite perfume: Arome de Dead Fish
The study was conducted at the Canine Detection Research Institute in Auburn, Alabama over a period of 18 months, and was funded by a million dollar grant from the Department of Justice. The dogs in the study rotated through 3 different diets: a high-end performance diet containing 27% protein, regular adult dog food containing 18% protein, and regular adult dog food enhanced with corn oil. The dogs' ability to detect odors improved significantly when they were eating more fat and less protein.
His accuracy is above 90% on a high-fat diet
The scientists believe that a cool dog can smell better than a hot one: that panting to lose body heat inhibits the sense of smell. Dogs eating more fat and less protein were able to return to normal body temperature more quickly. The scientists also speculated that the higher fat diet may somehow directly improve the sense of smell.

It sounds to me as though they need another million dollar grant to test that hypothesis.