I just read a really interesting article entitled, “Science Proves a Harsh Truth About Very Good Dogs”. I almost didn’t read it, because with all that’s going on in the world, I’m not sure I’m ready for a harsh truth about my dog. I mean, seriously, I don’t think I can take one more thing. But it turns out the article was worth the read.
Have you ever fallen completely in love with a dog simply because it has a very expressive face? That pretty much does it for me. Shoot me the sad eyes and I’m completely at your mercy.
Until quite recently, the general consensus seemed to be that those expressions were involuntary, just as they are with the bulk of the animal world. If a dog feels sad, we assumed, he just automatically made a sad face. I know that when my dog gives me that look, I just have to hug him.
But no. A scientific experiment was conducted to determine if dogs made the same expressions under the same circumstances if a human was paying attention or not. They gave the dogs food with an attentive human feeder, and also with a feeder whose back was turned, and studied their facial expressions. Turns out that dogs give many more facial expressions if the human is attentive.
To make sure it was the human attention that was the game changer for the dog, rather that how visible the food was, they experimented with food visibility, too. No change. It was all about the attention. According to the article, “the faces your dog makes are less about the food you have in your hand and more about getting you to do what it wants.”
I still believe, though, that my dog loves me. Even if he is a manipulative little monster. He may be performing to get a reaction, he may know darned well that he has me wrapped around his little paw, but he’ll always be my baby.
I have this love/hate relationship with my CPAP machine. I’ve been sleeping with a mask on every night for about 3 months now. It’s no fun at all. It’s uncomfortable, and confining, and it makes me marinate in my own drool. I feel trapped, and I strongly suspect it’s subtly changing the shape of my face. (Hey, it could happen. Anything’s possible. Google it.)
On the other hand, I’m no longer waking up 10 times a night. I sleep right on through, usually. And I’m much more rested. So it’s a burden I’m willing to take on.
Here’s the one concern I can’t seem to shake: I’m not communicating with my subconscious. We are no longer on speaking terms. I don’t remember my dreams anymore, because I’m not waking up immediately after REM sleep.
This is a good thing, health-wise. But I wonder about that communication process and the loss thereof. I mean, what are dreams for, if not to send us messages from the deepest parts of our brains?
Okay, I’ll admit that 9 times out of 10 I can’t make sense of my dreams at all. But sometimes they clue me in on the fact that I’m a lot more concerned about something than I realize. That allows me to take that thing more seriously and resolve it if I can.
But now all that seems to rattle around in my sleeping brain is the background hum of my CPAP machine. At first it was kind of a relief, because I have enough to think about without added dream drama. But now I wonder what I’m missing.
Because of that (and because, let’s face it, I hate the mask), I sometimes peel the alien intruder off my face and allow myself a few hours of slobber-free, unencumbered sleep. It’s such a luxury. It feels so good.
I have noticed, though, that this causes my dreams to be incredibly intense. No longer just abstract and surreal, it’s like my sleeping self is gripping me by the shoulders and giving me a good hard shake. “Hello! Are you listening? This stuff is important!” My dreams are no longer sweet. They’re more like shouts.
Will this impact my mental health? I mean, communication matters, right? Should I be worried? Stay tuned…
I used to think crows were pretty cool. They are confident. They know what they want, and they get it. And they’re smart. Scientists have discovered that crows can recognize individual human faces. I could have told them that. I was once stalked by a crow.
One day, after a long, particularly horrible graveyard shift in which everything seemed to go wrong, I was walking to my car and there was this crow sitting on a lamp post, squawking at me. Since I was in a foul mood, I replied, “Oh, shut up.”
The bird dive bombed me! I could feel his wings hit my head. Chalking it up to just one more annoying thing about the day, I got into my car and drove home.
The next morning I was leaving work again, and there was the crow. Same lamp post. This time he was silent, and so was I. But when I got closer, he dive bombed me once again. Great.
But here’s where it gets really weird. I had the next day off, and my coworker said that the evil creature didn’t show up. He never bothered anyone else. But he was waiting for me every day I worked. Surely a bird can’t grasp the concept of days of the week? Could he be recognizing my car?
This went on for weeks, which to me seems a little petty. Surely there must be something better for a crow to do. It got to the point that I was half afraid to walk to my car.
Then one day he wasn’t there. He never came back. Perhaps he moved on to someone else. Perhaps he felt that he had made his point. And in actual fact he did, because I won’t ever mess with a crow again.