Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, November 25, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page A:8

JUST FOR BEST FRIENDS Mountain Views-News Saturday, November 25, 2017 
8JUST FOR BEST FRIENDS Mountain Views-News Saturday, November 25, 2017 

Well-Founded Fact or Fallible Fantasy? 

Much ado has ensued in recent years, regarding the 
cognitive capacity of the “common” domestic canine, 
and some psychologists who’ve conducted studies in 
this field, have earned due respect from their peers in 
the animal behavioral science community. The burden 
of proof always lies on the individual whose desire it 
is to prove a particular theory as fact, and with that 
comes the responsibility and challenge of addressing 
and proving un-true, numerous opposing viewpoints.

Science is a discipline defined by very specific 
perimeters that must be acknowledged in determining 
the difference between fact and theory, and the 
process of proving a theory as fact requires accurately 
documenting the results of repeated controlled studies 
with consistency, tenacity and patience.

Therein lies the uniquely inherent value of the 
discipline itself. Anyone can come up with a theory, 
and hopefully we have all had a theory or two of our 
own that we deemed important enough to share at 
some point in our lives, but it is the proven fact that 
ultimately becomes a part of true science in the end.

When it comes to studying the thought processes 
and learning abilities of a dog, the first major challenge 
is communicating effectively with the subject. As we 
all know, animals don’t speak human language, so in 
order to figure out what is really going on the mind 
of a canine, an alternative language that the subject 
will hopefully comprehend and respond to, must be 

Various studies have been conducted over the 
past several decades where-in sounds, signals, sign 
language, objects and/or graphic imagery were used 
to communicate with the canine, in an effort to learn 
more about what they are thinking. The results of 
some of those studies have sustained strongly enough 
scientifically, to be accepted as true building blocks for 
future research into how a dog thinks & learns, and 
why he even bothers to.

Does “Fido” respond consistently to a hand signal or 
verbal command simply out of natural instinct, or does 
he do it because he feels the desire to please the human? 
Is his response more the result of empathy about what 
the human is asking of him, or is it simply an inherent 
reflex or robotic response completely absent of logic? 
How much of how “Fido” responds to stimuli comes 
from cognitive comprehension versus natural instinct?

These are among the questions yet to be answered 
definitively and ones that many animal behavior 
psychologists and professionals are on a major quest to 
find answers to. There is a fine line between defining 
whether our four-legged furry friends understand what 
we are saying and thus respond by virtue of cognition, 
or if they respond in a certain way simply because they 
were wired by nature to do so. 

This subject stirs up an immense amount 
of interest and intrigue not only among 
professionals in the field, but also among lay 
people such as myself, who love their pets and 
want to know what they are thinking in order 
to form stronger bonds and know better how 
to care for them. 

It also stirs up a hot pot of controversyamong folks of various schools of thoughtregarding the cognitive capacity of a canine,
and whether they are even capable of 
experiencing phenomena such as intelligenceand emotions as we humans understand them. 

Indeed the concept of canine cognition is a 



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very touchy subject among some religious groups who 
deem it blatant blasphemy to give a dog the credit for 
being able to have feelings and thought processes such 
as we humans have. I don’t see the conflict, myself.

I believe God created the dog for a very specific 
purpose, just as He created us for a specific purpose. 
We come from different species, but we all play an 
important role in this universe and on this planet. I 
wouldn’t be so bold as to assume my reason for being 
is more important than any other creature’s on earth. 
We are all part of a big picture, and we should humble 
ourselves to the knowledge that we are blessed to be 
alive at all. 

I don’t have enough time or space in this article to gointo the details of all the studies that have been conducted 
or are currently underway on canine cognition, but hereis a short list of websites that I found during a briefGoogle search, for those readers who are interested inlearning more about this intriguing subject.

Duke Canine Cognition Center (Duke University) 

dogsMax Plank Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

- Dog Cognition Lab (Columbia University)
Harvard Canine Cognition Lab (Facebook) 
`You may also want to visit, where you 
can assess your own dog’s cognitive tendencies by using 
a list of categories such as empathy, communication, 
cunning, memory and reason. There are various games 
and tests you can choose from for you and your dog 
to participate in. When you complete the assessment, 
you enter the data results and the site provides feedback 
that is supposed to be accurate regarding your canine‘s 
cognitive capacity.

I found it interesting, and I believe you will too. How 
scientifically correct the results are is another question. 
At least you your family will have fun in the process. 
You can purchase a one time assessment kit for as low 
as $19. If you are not interested for yourself, it might 
make a great Christmas gift for a friend.

I’m fascinated with the concept of canine cognition, 
and I’m grateful for the many scientific research projects 
underway to help us better understand our furry four-
legged friends. I may never know exactly what my 
girl, Molly is thinking, but I can’t help believing there 
is more going on in her head than, “When’s dinner?“. 
Regardless of what she thinks, one thing is for sure…
she KNOWS I love her! 

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Do you ever have 

a burst of energy 

or inspiration that 

is short lived? For 

most people, it 

happens all the 
time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could learn 
to hang onto this energy and harness it for good 
use? The sages recognized long ago this need for 
building and retaining energy.
When we first come to yoga, a powerful 
purification takes place. I love to see new students 
begin classes and immediately receive relief and 
clarity. It’s like their bodies were calling out yoga! 
They come to class often and are thrilled by the 
effects of the practice. Along with purifying, the 
body and mind begin to become strong. In fact, 
it’s ideal to spend a good amount of time getting 
strong. Yoga can be incredibly gentle at times 
and, as it should be, it can also be challenging. 
The practice reaches far and wide physically, 
strengthening and stretching vast areas and 
deeper muscles. There is a sense or a feeling of 
power that comes with all of this-- vitality. 

Real Life Tips from LIfe's Instruction Manual 

Having a gratitude practice can improve your mental and

physical health. What is it to have a gratitude practice?

What does it look like to live in Gratitude? 

Gratitude is acknowledgment.

Having a gratitude practice means that rather than waiting

for something to happen to appreciate, we live in a grateful 
state. We bend toward gratitude and look for the goodin every situation and condition. It means we notice. We 
decide to generate gratitude.

It’s the act of pausing to notice those things that make adifference. 

I recently heard the author Ernest J. Gaines interviewedon the “What it Takes” podcast. The interviewer asked about 
him becoming a writer.
He spoke of many influences, his parents, his aunt, the elderson the farm where he lived as a child. Then he mentioned 
the library.

He said he used an Andrew Carnegie Library in Vallejo,
California. He specified that he used a Carnegie Library.
Attribution is an important aspect of gratitude. His specificity 
was an act of grace and appreciation.

Mr. Carnegie came to the United States as a poor childfrom Scotland but died as one of the richest men in the 
world. Many people focus on his wealth, but I appreciate 

So what happens if we purify and strengthen and 
build, build, build without any counterbalance? 
We get an uptight, possibly unstable yogi. Here is 
when it’s time for calm and steadiness. Without 
both of these, there is no sustainable foundation 
for harnessing the great created vitality or the 
clean and clear state of being. Calm and stable 
is achieved through the breath and the body. 
Meditations or visualizations that create focus or 
concentrated energy are excellent as well.
Consider in your practice if you were to hold 
poses longer, what would be the effect? How 
about the breath? What impact does 1:1 breathing 
have on you? How about extending the length of 
your exhale to twice as long as the inhale? What 
would be the effect? Try this. You will most likely 
discover and experience calm and stability. This 
will provide the foundation for holding onto and 
building vitality. 
Keep in mind as you proceed and enjoy yoga, 
creating calm and stability is always needed and 
should be interwoven into practice. Please come 
find us at Yoga Madre,
Namaste, Keely Totten, E-RYT 500 

his service. I believe his greatestinfluence was the $60 million he 
donated to the support of the publiclibrary system. The ripple of his gift

Lori A. Harris 

is eternal, he educated and touched 
so many lives. In the age of Google,
it’s easy to forget about the impact of libraries, but getting lostin the pages of a book or the stacks of a library will never bereplaced by instant access, electronic books.

Washington, D.C. is the home of the first Andrew CarnegieLibrary and in 1903 was the only public place that AfricanAmericans were welcome to use the public bathroom in theDistrict of Columbia. It was open to women, children and 
all races. Mr. Gaines spoke of marveling at being allowedin the library without restriction it was the first place heexperienced equanimity.

He is one of my favorite authors because he gives voiceand dignity to people that are familiar to me and that I love.
My people come alive on the pages of his books, and I amgrateful.

Lori A. Harris is a lawyer and coach. You can experiencemore of her gratitude insights in her free app the GratitudeTrain and then record your own. Download the app for free in 
the App Store and Google Play. 

Walter Cailleteau, DVM Free Exam! 
927 N. Michillinda Ave. For New Clients 
Pasadena, CA 91107 Bring this coupon to save! 
(626) 351-8863 
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