Just Who is the Human in the Picture? -arf, arf

You can sing the title of this posting to the tune ‘How much is that doggy in the window (arf, arf)/the one with the waggley tail…’, which in turn is loosely based on ‘Carnival of Venice’, a folk tune. The puppy dog version was made famous by the popular American singer Patti Page 60 years ago.

The question cynologists are asking, however, is not how much those puppy mill pups cost, but if our dogs have the ability to recognize human facial features from photographs. It’s a talent previously thought to be possessed only by humans and possibly by other primates.

We know from experience that dogs can recognize us, their familiar human friends, through windows. But, a recent study entitled ‘How dogs scan familiar and inverted faces: An eye movement study’, by Finnish cynologists at the University of Helsinki, has 131218095847established that dogs are actually pretty good at recognizing familiar faces in photographs. During tests, the dogs were shown the faces of humans both known and unknown to them, and the mugs of other dogs. They were especially attracted to the dog photos, but when it came to humans they knew, they fixed their gaze in recognition. (Photo – Dog eye tracking human face. Credit: Sanni Somppi)

You can read more details about the study and its conclusions online at the popular science site http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131218095847.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+News+–+Top+Science%29. The ScienceDaily story is based on a 2013 article entitled ‘How dogs scan familiar and inverted faces: an eye movement study’ recently published in the journal ‘Animal Cognition’ (click on DOI: 10.1007/s10071-013-0713-0).

The more we learn about our canine companions, the more impressed we become with their sometimes uncanny abilities.

Followup trivia gleaned from Wikipedia.org: dogread_small

Patti Page’s song about the puppy in the window was released as a 78rpm disc (remember those?) in January 1953 by Mercury Records, Catalog No.70070, and on 45rpm disc, Cat.#70079X45. The song on the flip side was ‘My Jealous Eyes’, which also became very popular. ‘Doggie in the Window’ quickly rose to No.1 popularity on the USA’s ‘Billboard Best Sellers’, and in other countries. It ultimately sold over two million copies.

More recently, Patti Page (1927-2013) had this to say about it, as quoted from a 2009 news article online at www.humanesociety.org <News <‘Old Song Carries New Tune’.

“The original song asks the question: ‘How much is that doggie in the window?’ Today, the answer is ‘too much.’ And I don’t just mean the price tag on the puppies in pet stores. The real cost is in the suffering of the mother dogs back at the puppy mill. That’s where most pet store puppies come from. And that kind of cruelty is too high a price to pay.”

Patti Page was well known for her concern about animal welfare.

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About LiteraryDogs

I write and read about dogs, and admire dogs in print; ergo 'LiteraryDogs'. If you have some or all of these same sentiments, let's share our reading/writing knowledge and canine literary insights. My own writings are about Tibetan mastiffs, but I'm flexible and enjoy all dogs.
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