New Study Proves Dogs Really Do ‘Get’ Us Read more: PDF Print E-mail
Written by Anando Das Gupta   
Monday, 18 January 2016 14:41

ike a lot of pet owners, I like to believe my dogs understand when I’m sad or angry or happy. In fact, I’ve been sick with the flu, and whenever I blow my nose, my dog Ella walks over to me, tail wagging, and plops her head on my lap. I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m sad and crying, and is trying to comfort me.

Is this just wishful thinking? Could it be that we pet owners are anthropomorphizing our dogs by believing they “get” us and our emotions?

No, according to a new study published this month in the scientific journal Biology Letters. Scientists discovered that dogs draw on sensory information, including facial expressions and vocal inflections, to recognize emotions in people as well as other dogs. This rare ability had not previously been observed in any other species besides humans.

study last month also found that dogs, like humans, experience what’s called emotional contagion: They can pick up on and reflect another dog’s feelings, which indicates they are capable of experiencing empathy. And a previous study found that dogs can discriminate emotional expressions of human faces.

So what’s different about this latest study, conducted by animal behavior experts and psychologists from the University of Lincoln in the U.K. and University of Sao Paulo in Brazil? For the first time, it found that dogs form abstract mental representations of emotions – in other words, they’re not simply recognizing facial cues.

“Previous studies have indicated that dogs can differentiate between human emotions from cues such as facial expressions, but this is not the same as emotional recognition,” said researcher Dr. Kun Guo from the University of Lincoln’s School of Psychology.

Co-author Daniel Mills, a professor at the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences, said there’s an important difference “between associative behavior, such as learning to respond appropriately to an angry voice, and recognizing a range of very different cues that go together to indicate emotional arousal in another. Our findings are the first to show that dogs truly recognize emotions in humans and other dogs.”

In the study, 17 healthy pet dogs saw images and heard sounds (a human voice or dog barking) that conveyed various combinations of positive and negative emotional expressions in people and dogs. The dogs were not familiar with the people and dogs in the photos.

The dogs viewed images showing either happy/playful or angry/aggressive emotions on two screens. Simultaneously, the audio of a human voice (speaking in a language unfamiliar to the dogs) or dog barking would play that either conformed or conflicted with the emotion in the image. Other times, the dogs would hear a neutral sound like static.

Photo credit: University of Lincoln

Photo credit: University of Lincoln

Researchers timed the dogs as they viewed the images and heard the sounds. The dogs spent much more time looking at facial expressions of people and dogs that matched the emotional states of the vocalizations. According to the researchers, this meant that instead of simply recognizing a facial expression, the dogs were able to put the image and audio together and understand the emotional state.

“Our study shows that dogs have the ability to integrate two different sources of sensory information into a coherent perception of emotion in both humans and dogs,” Guo said. “To do so requires a system of internal categorization of emotional states. This cognitive ability has until now only been evidenced in primates and the capacity to do this across species only seen in humans.”

The fact that the dogs in the study received no training and were unfamiliar with the subjects in the images and audio “suggests that dogs’ ability to combine emotional cues may be intrinsic,” Mills said. “As a highly social species, such a tool would have been advantageous and the detection of emotion in humans may even have been selected for over generations of domestication by us.”

Not only is this study further proof of the strong bond dogs share with humans, but according to the researchers, it “may be key to understanding the evolution of social cognition.”

Read more:

Justice for Khushi? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Anando Das Gupta   
Sunday, 27 December 2015 15:32
Dear fellow animal lovers,

It pains me deeply to inform you that our dog, Khushi has been illegally removed from the premises of Race Course Tower, Baroda, because the Rheo case was not taken back.

The place has a history of engaging in animal cruelty. As many of you must be remembering,on 27th May, 2013, Rheo, a meek community dog, was hammered on the head with sticks by Sanjay Kappor (who runs an eatery in Race Course Tower), Ramlal (runs an estate and stationary shop in Race Course Tower), Anil (his karmas that his business closed down) and Bharat because he was peacefully sleeping in the premises of Race Course Tower. Rheo was rushed for treatment but he had died on the way and the doctor’s diagnosis reports confirmed death due to brain hemorrhage as a result of head injury.

Consequently, my mother, Mrs. Hansa Roy had filed an FIR under section 154 Cr.P.C at the Gotri police station, Baroda dated 28-05-13. Tremendous public support from all across the globe had poured in to get justice for Rheo Gujarati newsclipping had further contributed to creating awareness about the injustice and Shri Hiranmay Karlekar had also written about the issue in The Pioneer
Because the culprits were local goons and had their contacts, there was police inaction inspite of the mounting pressure. Finally on the 3rd June, 2013, the culprits were arrested after Mrs. Maneka Gandhi intervened and they were jailed under IPC 428/429. However, they were later released on bail. But, the case is still going on and two summons have been avoided by the culprits. Infact, one of the culprits had recently told my mother to take back the case, which she refused.
On the 7th of December, 2015 between 1230am and 1am, Khushi, a sterilised and vaccinated brindle coloured female dog, the lone surviving dog of Race Course Tower (the same place where Rheo was assaulted) was illegally removed. The night watchman’s conflicting statements, the security supervisor’s misbehaviour and hatred towards dogs, shopkeepers being mortally afraid when being asked about Khushi and Sanjay Kapoor’s and his cronies face is a give away of what must have happened to Khushi. Our building watchman (our building is next to Race Course Tower) confirmed that he heard some sounds coming from the Race Course Tower on the 7th of December between 1230 am and 1am.

Khushi is not with any of the two NGOs and neither did she die in the premises after having cross questioned the sweepers. Neither did Khushi ever leave the building in the last seven years, even for a single day, come what may. Khushi was removed from the premises of Race Course Tower because Rheo’s case was not taken back.

A police complaint has been lodged directly with the Commissioner of Police, Baroda for his intervention. If all of you can take out a minute to approach the Commissioner of Police, Baroda (details provided below) and request him to question the accused (the Security Supervisor, Yadav, Sanjay Kapoor and his cronies, the night guard, Umesh) to speak out Khushi’s whereabouts, we may perhaps have her back, provided they did not kill her.

Shri E. Radhakrishana, IPS
The Commisioner of Police, Vadodara City
Police Commissioner Office,
1st Floor, Police Bhavan,
Jail Road, Raopura,
Vadodara City
Ph: 0265-2431414, 2431515

Hashtags like #JusticeforKhushi and #BringbackKhushi will also help to spread the message along with the petition. You can add more hashtags that may help to get it into a larger picture.

I have also put up an advertisement for seeking information about Khushi’s whereabouts. I do not know whether she is dead or alive.

These culprits deserve to be punished by law for repeatedly engaging in animal cruelty. Their mission of eliminating stray dogs stands fulfilled as no dog is left in Race Course Tower premises now.

Please be with us in seeking justice for Khushi and bringing her back.

Thanks and regards,

Kuhu Roy
Dogs And Other Animals May Also Have Conscience PDF Print E-mail
Written by Anando Das Gupta   
Sunday, 13 December 2015 01:56

If you're a pet owner, it would not be surprising for you to know that your pet dog and other animals actually possess the aptitude of self-awareness.

Animals such as magpies, an Asian elephant, great apes, some ants and some dolphins have all previously passed the "mirror test" in which they recognize themselves apart from another object reflected in a mirror.

However, when dogs went through the mirror test, they were found to be uninterested in their own reflection. Instead, they usually sniff or urinate around the mirror, experts said.

In a study featured in Ethology, Ecology & Evolution, Roberto Cazzolla Gatti of the Tomsk State University in Russia explained that the sniff test of self-recognition (STSR) proves that dogs have significant self-consciousness.

The STSR is a modified version of the mirror test and it examines the use of the sense of smell instead of the sense of sight, Gatti said.

"When I became interested in this aspect of ethology I went through the scientific literature and I discovered that, however, the ability to recognize their [animals] own image in the mirror is a skill extremely rare in the animal kingdom,"said Gatti.

So in order to find out if dogs were self-aware, Gatti collected urine samples from four dogs and stored them in labeled containers. He then submitted each dog to STSR, and repeated the test four times a year at the start of each season.

Within a fence, Gatti placed five urine samples that contained the scent of each dog's urine, as well as a blank sample that contained odorless cotton wool. When the containers were opened, each dog was introduced to the interior of the cage and moved freely for five minutes. Gatti recorded the time taken by each dog to sniff each sample.

The study found that each dog devoted more time to sniff the urine samples of other dogs rather than their own. Their behavior confirmed Gatti's hypothesis that dogs are aware of the scent of their own urine, making them uninterested in it and more interested in that of other dogs. Therefore, dogs are creatures who are self-aware, said Gatti.

Additionally, Gatti found a link between the age of the dog and the time it took for the animal to sniff the urine. He said that it strongly supports the idea that self-consciousness increases with age, as found in humans and other animals like chimpanzees.

Lastly, Gatti believes that the findings of the study, entitled "Self-consciousness: beyond the looking-glass and what dogs found there," present clear empirical evidence regarding animal behavior and cognition.

Say NO to NDMC's diabolic plan for Delhi's street dogs! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Anando Das Gupta   
Sunday, 01 November 2015 21:12

Many of you living in the NDMC areas of New Delhi must have received this sms:

"NDMC NewDelhi Smart City
Should NDMC relocate stray dogs to sanctuaries? Please send response as
NDMC Y11 or
NDMC N11 to

Please, please respond immediately with the second option NDMC N11. Sanctuaries are a euphemism for death camps as is apparent from the experience of Hyderabad and Pune, to mention just a couple of cities.

NDMC is trying to build its case against stray dogs to present to the court in the upcoming Supreme Court case. For a long time they have been trying to get rid of our street dogs, but every time they have been thwarted by the law and the united front presented by animal lovers all over. Now once again our dogs are in danger and they need your support, not just from Delhi's animal lovers but from animal lovers everywhere! Please, please unite once again for the street dogs of Delhi. If the NDMC succeeds in Delhi, it will spell death and suffering for Delhi's dogs, and other cities will surely follow their example. Street dogs should have the right to live free, healthy and happy, cared for by the community as the dogs in the attached pictures!

Thank you,

Protest Against Kerala Dog Culling PDF Print E-mail
Written by Anando Das Gupta   
Friday, 28 August 2015 21:17

Here are the images of the protests that took place at jantar mantar against Kerala's dog culling

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