OMG—I saw the coolest thing on 60 Minutes!  One of those things that makes my world come all together into one big happiness heap.


“The World’s Smartest Dog,” the segment was about a man and his Border Collie, Chaser.  Seems he’s taught Chaser over 500 words, and the dog is flawless at finding exactly what his owner asked him for.


Now, that in itself isn’t the really cool thing—anyone who’s ever done advanced training knows that dogs are far smarter than most people give them credit for.  They have memory and cognitive function on the level of a two-year-old human.  And, learn in the same fashion.   And even though Chaser is on the upper scale for intelligence even in Border Collies (who everyone in competitive dogs knows are really smart to begin with. But don’t go out and buy one unless a, you can exercise him daily—a lot—and b, you’re smarter than the dog.  Which unless you’ve trained lot of dogs, trust me—you won’t be), all dogs land somewhere on that intelligence scale.


While that was fun to watch, it wasn’t the way-cool part.  The second segment was.


A neurosurgeon decided to study dogs’ brains in order to see if they really loved us, or just used us as a meal ticket. 


I have to digress for one second here, for historical perspective.  Dogs and humans have been together for centuries now, probably millennia, and while conventional wisdom always held that man domesticated dogs, newer research shows the other way around—dogs initiated the relationship.  Now, you can say it was because humans had slain wooly mammoths in their camps, so food was plentiful, and I’d bet that was the start of it.  But according to this doctor’s study, more was or at least now is at play.


He found that when putting dogs under an MRI, and testing their brains, when they smelled the sweat of any old human, nothing happened. But let them smell the sweat of their owners, and the pleasure center in the brain lit up.  That’s the same center that activates when you see someone you love!


And, it’s the place in the brain that activates Oxytocin—the bonding, feel-good hormone!  How cool is that?


Your dog, when you come home from work, spins and jumps in circles of love J


And the kicker?  When you look into the eyes of a dog you love, or rub his ears, being close to him, it sends oxytocin shooting through both you and the dog.  Both of you feel good!


That goes a long way to explain why therapy dogs do so much good.  And anybody who’s ever done that work can tell you it’s absolutely true.  I’ve had two therapy dogs, one of whom is still active.  And I choose to do nursing-home visits, as most folks want to see kids in hospitals, etc.


What rewarding work it is, even if sometimes difficult.  But it’s when the aide says things such as, “Mrs. Wilson hasn’t spoken since you were here last week,” after the sweet wheel-chair bound lady oohs and ahhs, talking to Harper Lee.  The patients rarely remember my name, but they always remember the dog’s.


And of course, anyone who has ever loved a dog can tell you all of this.  But now, we have scientific proof!  When that happens it always tweaks me J


So, go hug your Labrador today.  Okay, so you can have another breed.  LOL.  But have a happiness rush for both of you!


How do you know your dog is smart?


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. One of our Dobie girls “counts” us when we come home. It’s very obvious what she’s doing. 🙂

    1. I LOVE that! My mama girls do that–whenever they go out, as soon as they come back in they count all the babies in the box. I kid them that of course I’d let some coyote in to get the babies!

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