February 14, 2012

field notes, ii-xiv-xii

Valentine's Day seems early for mayflies. Everything's beginning to blossom - the dogwoods and redbuds are beautiful. Looks like early spring.

Ondine wasn't great tonight, but she wasn't her worst. Notes:

Right after work, about 5:15, before she ate.
Nice weather, cool but sneaking up on warm.
Magnificent on the trail, squirrely on the roads. (Lots of traffic.)
Very good crossing the street into the park.

Aries was good, too. He's been cranky and aggressive toward the other animals lately so I'm trying to get him out more consistently. It would be nice to walk him and Ondine together but we're not there yet. And also I'm not crazy. Oh - he got startled by a large, metallic "I love you" balloon that was trapped in a bush. He investigated by nudging it with his nose, which dislodged it, and then he stood quietly and watched as it floated away.

Do dogs form 'real' friendships? is fascinating - both the post and the comments. I'd love to go work on a master's in biology. I'd do my thesis on social relationships in feral dog packs. My hypothesis is that the process of domestication degrades canine social cohesion. As canines drew closer to our human ancestors they became less reliant on hunting and more on scavenging. Competition became more important than cooperation with each other, and cooperation with humans became more beneficial than cooperation with others of their kind. I think I'd have to seek out a wide variety of feral packs to study, representing several different stages of domestication - you know, village dogs in Afghanistan, landfill dogs in Tijuana, carrion dogs in India. I'd probably want to compare them to jackals in Africa and dingoes in Australia, too, just to round out the study. (Though I must say I wholly disagree with the premise that dogs don't form real friendships. That's ludicrous. I'd much rather say that we can't apply human standards of friendship to dogs as the standard, especially if the behaviors we would define as friendship are the behaviors we've helped nature breed out of them. We have to study them to figure out what friendship means, on their terms, first.)


  1. Seems you are very interested in this. Go for it!

  2. Get National Geographic to fund you.

  3. It occurs to me that to address the hypothesis adequately I'd probably have to observe several generations of each population. Probably should have started 30 years ago.