If I Only Had a Brain…..

Our post title will be familiar to anyone who’ve ever seen the film, The Wizard of Oz, and for the twelve of you who haven’t,  it’s the title of the song sung by the character, Scarecrow, which you can see here.

Ray Bolger did a wonderful job with that song, but we like Cat Jahnke’s version, as well:

Brain power. Rich in dopamine, a dog’s striatum in the brain mediates reward, pleasure and expectation, which, according to some, are the three pillars of a dog’s world. As smart, clever, and intuitive as our different purebred dogs are, however, it’s interesting to note that only two breeds standards out of the 202 AKC standards mention the brain at all.

Can you guess which two?

“Head deep, rather than broad, with plenty of brain room, can be found in the Gordon Setter’s breed standard, while the Old English Sheepdog section on the skull reads, ” Capacious and rather squarely formed giving plenty of room for brain power.”

We’re fairly certain that every dog has a brain, even when the dog does something utterly inexplicable (something that makes total sense to the dog at the time).  We forgive them. A study done in Budapest (one of the epicenters of research on dogs) found that the smell of its owner actually sparks activation in the caudate nucleus, or “reward center” of their brain. Think of it. Of all the smells to take in, dogs actually prioritize the smell of humans over anything or anyone else.  It gets better. The study revealed marked similarities in the way we and dogs process sounds associated (if not charged) with emotion. This commonality speaks to the uniquely strong communication system underlying the dog-human bond. Put another way, our dogs don’t just seem to pick up on our moods — they’re physically wired to pick up on them.

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