Am viewing the two Budge mutts, Zazu and Ailsa, in a different light having heard last night at Jaw that they are beneficiaries of 30,000 years of domestication; so, we learn from Dr Juliane Kaminski, Director of the Dog Cognition Centre at the University of Portsmouth, dogs were the first creatures to be domesticated by humans – well before cats and horses (a mere 9,500 years for the latter). Having been at it for about 3,000 generations, our two dogs and their breeds – black Labradors and West Highland Terriers – should be pretty well sorted in their awareness of how to live with humans: no excuses and an expectation of ever-rising standards. But, hang on: of course, it is a two way thing and I am sure that the further we humans have moved away from serious, working relationships with most of our dogs towards a rather (confession time here..) sentimental and even self-indulgent relationship, the more flawed we have become as domesticators. Enough speculation: far better to look at Juliane’s experiments and to see how attuned dogs are to understanding humans’ wishes and even our demeanour. Even better, we can volunteer our dogs to take part in these experiments and take them to the Dog Cognition Centre (DOCCS) at Portsmouth. I feel that Zazu and Ailsa should play their part in the four-legged march towards better understanding of dog cognition.
In the meantime – and in order as well either to give your restaurant Italian some refreshment or to whet your desire to learn that beautiful language – here is an inspirational clip of man and dog in a very modern domesticated harmony:
By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools
Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.