February 22nd, 2020| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


Clive Wynne, founder the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, and author of Dog is Love (an obvious play on “God is love”), makes an interesting case: your dog loves you!

Wynne, an animal psychologist, began studying dogs in the early 2000s. Early on, he believed that to ascribe complex emotions like love to dogs was to commit the sin of anthropomorphism. But he’s since changed his mind.

Now pigeons are smart: they can identify different kinds of objects in 2D images. Dolphins are smart: they can understand grammar. Honeybees are smart: they can signal the location of food by dancing.

Dogs, however, can’t do anything like that. But Wynne proposes a paradigm shift, positing that it is dogs’ “hypersociability” or “extreme gregariousness”—“love”—that sets them apart.

And oxytocin, a brain chemical, seems to play a role. Just as there is a chemical spike when mothers and babies are close to each other, Takefumi Kikusui at Japan’s Azabu University has shown that levels of oxytocin rise when humans and their dogs gaze into each others’ eyes: love!

A UCLA geneticist Bridgett vonHoldt made another discovery. Williams syndrome, a rare neurodevelopmental genetic disorder in humans, is characterized by intellectual challenges but is accompanied by exceptional gregariousness. Apparently dogs have the same mutation. Writes Wynne:

The essential thing about dogs, as for people with Williams syndrome, is a desire to form close connections, to have warm personal relationships—to love and be loved.”

Also of interest, MRIs show that brains of dogs respond to praise as much as or even more than to food. One researcher placed a bowl of food at a distance from the dog, with its owner standing at a same distance in the other direction. The animals overwhelmingly went to humans first.

All you need is love!

Wynne advocates for the “trash heap theory”: ancient dogs hung around ancient humans’ dumping grounds, slowly ingratiating themselves with people, leading to enduring partnerships in joint hunting expeditions, and today to the relationships we have with our canine pets.

Our dogs give us so much, and in return they don’t ask for much. You don’t need to be buying all these fancy expensive toys and treats and goodness knows what that are available. They just need our company, they need to be with people.”

OK, maybe Dog is Love, but it is really God who is.

God is love.
1 John 4:8, 16

And how did he show his love?

By this the love of God was manifested in us,
that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world
so that we might live through Him.
1 John 4:9–10

Jesus echoed those words:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

Love led to eternal life, because the price of sins was paid by Jesus Christ.

He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:10

Thus we were made the children of our heavenly Father, born into a new family:

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us,
that we would be called children of God.
1 John 3:1

And so, in response …

We love, because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19

And what is our love to look like?

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us;
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1 John 3:16



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