Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, February 1, 2020

MVNews this week:  Page 9


Mountain View News Saturday, February 1, 2020 


Pet of the Week


Kane is a handsome boy with a beautiful soft black 
coat and white highlights. Kane loves going for 
walks and socializing with other dogs and people. 
He recently discovered the fun of playing with a 
couple of other dogs off leash in our play yard, 
loving the freedom to run and chase his buddies. 
Kane is looking for a loving home with someone 
patient enough to take the time to get to know 
him. He would probably do well with another dog 
as a companion and playmate. 

Check out this sweet boy here in this adorable 
video - . Kane is 
4-year-old Chihuahua mix. Come and meet this 
good looking little boy soon - he’d love a home to 
call his own. His adoption fee is $130, which includes 
neuter surgery, microchip, first vaccinations and a free wellness check-up at a participating 


I spend a lot of time hanging out with animals. 
I’ve always enjoyed (perhaps even preferred) the 
company of my furry four-legged friends, and I 
kind of like to think they enjoy spending time with 
me. While I do adore all the animals, I have to 
admit the domestic dog has become my favorite. 
Dogs make such great friends. They can make you 
laugh out loud, and at times they can make you 
cry. Regardless of what the mood may be, dogs 
always seem willing to meet me in the moment, 
and that is truly a gift.

I used to have a dog named Lady. She was unique, 
in that she would smile when you looked at her. 
I don’t mean the kind of smile that only shows 
through the eyes from inside like most dogs, I 
mean she smiled the same way we humans smile. 
Well, maybe Lady’s smile looked a little different 
because of her long snout and pointy teeth, but her 
cheeks stretched way back, her lips curled upward, 
and her eyes got squinty every time she smiled, 
just like a human. I had to explain it to folks we’d 
meet along the way, so they’d know she was just 
happy to see them, not baring her teeth as though 
she may bite. No, that girl was sporting a big fat 

I smile at dogs all the time. I’m pretty sure I’ve 
always smiled at dogs, but I suppose it’s possible 
that it could be a relatively new habit for me, what 
with all the time I spend hanging out with them 
these days. Lately I often find myself smiling at 
dogs I don’t even know, like ones riding in the 
back seats of cars looking out at me through the 
window. I smile and wave at them, as if I’m trying 
to engage a small child. I don’t even care if people 
see me doing it. It just seems like the natural thing 
to do.

Now I have a dog named Molly. She’s a very 
attentive and somewhat sensitive girl. She uses 
facial expressions all the time, to tell me what 
she’s thinking. I’m sure of this because she is 
consistent in repeating the same expressions 
in response to what is going on at the time. For 
example, if I reach for my keys and head for the 
front door, Molly follows me, plops down in front 
of the door and stares up at me with her hopeful 
look…the one that says, “You’re taking me with 
you, right?”. Her ears perk straight up, her eyes 
get wide and her brow gets all wrinkly. It’s similar 
to the look she gives me when I’m eating a meal, 
only the latter shows hope for a nibble of what’s 
on my plate versus a walk around the block. Still, 
they are both predictable facial expressions I often 
see her use to get her way.

After living with Molly for a while, I began to 
realize how much attention she pays to my facial 
expressions. I don’t have to say a word. I can be 
sitting across the room from her and randomly 
give her a silly look. I open my eyes wide, look 
up at the ceiling, lift my brows into tall arches and 
twist my mouth sideways. Immediately Molly 
gets all tense and starts barking at me, tail 
wagging wildly. If I sit very still and glance 
repeatedly at her toy basket, moving only 
my eyeballs back and forth, she jumps to 
her feet and runs to grab a toy for us to 
play with. It is clear that she knows I am 
teasing her, inciting her to play. If I frown 
and look down, she walks slowly and 
tentatively across the room towards me, 
with a somewhat anxious look on her own 
face. One that asks, “Are you okay?”. How in the 
world does that dog know something’s up just 
from looking at my face?

Over the past 15+ years, much research has 
been done focusing specifically on the canine’s 
capacity to recognize human emotion through 
facial expression. The results of a 2014 study 
conducted by scientists at the Messerli Research 
Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine 
Vienna in Austria, indicate that dogs are indeed 
able to discriminate emotional expressions in 
human faces. Meaning, not only can a canine 
tell the difference between a sad or happy human 
face, a dog can also interpret the inner emotions 
that human facial expressions represent - sadness 
or happiness. (Source:
biology). What made the 2014 Messerli study and 
it’s results unique to several others before it, is 
that there were no ulterior cues used to encourage 
the dogs’ responses, as had been typical in 
other studies. “Here, we show that dogs use the 
emotion of a heterospecific (organism of another 
species - in this case a human face) as the sole 
discriminative cue.”

In this study, the scientists used only picture pairs 
showing sectional parts of human faces (some 
only the mouth, some only the eyes, and some 
only a half-face) with either an angry or happy 
expression, as cues for the canines‘ responses. 
Interestingly, all of the subject dogs in the study 
were more than willing to approach and touch 
the pictures showing happy expressions, while 
consistently resisting the images showing angry 
or sad expressions. The researchers involved 
attribute their results mainly to the amount of time 
people now spend with their canines, which makes 
total sense to me.

Regardless of how or why dogs “get” our moods 
just from looking at our faces, I think it is awesome 
that my Molly can tell by looking at me, how I am 
feeling. I know humans who would rather run the 
other way than stay, if they see a sad look on my 
face. And I’m pretty sure that Molly doesn’t like 
to see me sad either, but I have yet to see her turn 
around and run the other way when I’ve expressed 
myself in a sad way. My experience has been quite 
the opposite. She’ll approach, perhaps slower than 
usual, but approach she will, and the give me a 
little lick on the cheek, or a pat with her paw as if 
to say, “Cheer up, ma!”

Knowing how much dogs pick up on our 
emotions, just by observing our facial expressions 
has brought me to a better understanding of how 
important it is that I emit calmness and kindness 
in the presence of my canine companions. They 
actually care about us. They want us to be happy, 
and it is my desire to return that favor by sharing 
only positive feelings and thoughts with my 
precious furry friends, rather than negative or 
angry ones. They give us so much unconditional 
love and affection, they deserve nothing but the 
best in return. Love and let live!

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