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Any of us know how we feel when we come across something new or strange we have never seen before. A sense of excitement for some, fear for others. Even though the question posed above is focused primarily on dogs, it goes towards the entire animal kingdom; just how do all of these “other” animals we share this taxonomic kingdom with think of us? Is there sense of fear or happiness really the same as ours?
According to research by Dr. Gregory Bern's , using an MRI machine, his research team has concluded that when
… dogs that are presented with certain smells in scanners can clearly tell the difference between dogs and humans, and also discern and recognize familiar and strange odors. A familiar smell from humans, at times, did evoke a reward response from the dog being observed. Overall the study claimed that
… dogs love their humans — and not just for food, he says.
They love the company of humans simply for its own sake.
From a visual perspective variations can be found as well, adding yet another layer of contrast that separates humans from the other animals. This difference comes to life, with the link provided above, with several interactive slides that show how some animals perceive color opposed to us.
I am quite certain that most would agree that dogs have become such an intricate part of our collective culture that accepting the possibility that they are able to pick up and respond to certain social cues from us is not a very far leap to make. That being said, the evidence is clear that dogs as well as other animals do see and smell things in their environment quite different than we do. How they perceive themselves as individuals in our environment is still an area that is still largely not understood. I believe most pet owners have a firm belief that whether it's Fido or Tabitha, they are members of their family, with all the positives and negatives that go with it, and that will simply have to be enough, as honestly, what else is needed?