Do People look like their Dogs? & some reasons why people might keep pets...or spouses

This news just in: we DO look like our dogs. Ground-breaking research from Bath Spa University has revealed that we can tell which dog belongs to whom using our eyes. A group of volunteers shown pictures of dog owners and asked whether they had a labrador, poodle or Staffordshire bull terrier got the answer right twice as often as would be expected by chance. The Guardian

Given the quite scientifically-verified perspective that ‘similarity attracts’, people might pick a dog on the basis of their subconscious appreciation of their similarity in features. This might indicate the degree to which we might require a validation of our significance to the point that we even pick a dog on the basis of similarity in facial features - and which is simultaneously indicative of the absence of meaningful interaction in our relationship with our own species.

Additionally, the degree to which one needs such validation would also determine the kind of dogs one might pick, i.e., to complement or compensate for their choice of spouse or spouselessness.

So, if we are laughingly remarking that a particular person looks like her/is dog, we might actually be saying that the person has picked one that looks like her/im. In this, case, I would recommend that the person’s laughter be cut short in favour of wondering if they are not dissimilarly inclined in their relationships with people, and their own spouses.

However, that said, we might not pick our pets purely on the basis of physical similarities, but on the basis of characteristics as well. Speaking for myself, I would pick cats as opposed to dogs for their couldn’t-care less, independent-mindedness, and the sort of non-surprised incredulity that seems to be expressed on their faces in the face of human stupidity. In that, the only validation I might receive is in the knowledge that there is another who doesn’t give as much of a toss as I.

Another scenario is where a dog comes across as ‘owned’ just like one’s spouse. In that, say, a woman, receives additional validation as the ‘top dog’ with her canine companion on a leash in front, and the husband on an invisible one beside - which can be studied in terms of the extent to which one looks at the other when speaking or answering a question, sitting posture, who leads conversations, the degree to which one party moves forward when listening to the other, etc. This thought first occurred to me upon my constant observation of the relationship between women and men in singapore. In this case, if similarity attracts, it does so in terms of women’s perceiving similarly of their husbands and dogs, or putting it another way, feeling like the ‘top dog’ with two bitches in tow.

On the inverse side of things, a pet might just serve as a complement to a loving relationship within a family. So this is not a negative indictment of those inclined to keep pets.

The reasons why people keep pets is quite complex. It can indicate what we are in terms of our relationships with the people around us in a compensatory or complementary sense. Additionally, it might go even deeper with a subconscious realisation by many that they are quite disabled from effectuating effective care for their fellow humans by their own self-centredness or an overarching milieu wherein popular empathy is frowned upon. This is where the instinct to ‘care’ is contracted to that which is convenient or self-validating. Of course, as stated, it can also complement a generally empathetic milieu wherein people are relatively caring generically and thus exhibit this through cross-species empathy. But where same-species empathy is absent, cross-species empathy is compensation.




  1. Great post, cats do have such charming contempt for the stupidity, don't they?

    I should mention that most people are in fact owned by their dogs, and speaking of stupidity most of them don't even realize it. Dogs that lean up against people and paw at them are seen as extra-loving and "devoted", when in fact this behavior of demanding attention indicates an alpha-dog mentality and many of these enthralled owners get bitten by the very same dog (80% of the time it's when they try to get the dog to get down off the bed).

    I read a study recently that showed a flood of endorphins are released when we're with our pets, and the older study that showed pets lowered blood pressure also showed that the same people had a spike in blood pressure when in the vicinity of their spouses.

    You might like The Tribe of Tiger by Thomas or Your Cat by Hodgkins. Human society does not give the cat its due resepct; their ancestors saved our ancestors from rodents and plague and they never get enough credit.

  2. Hello Ellie,

    Thanks for the information on dogs Ellie. That was interesting.

    I suppose the dogs and spouses having opposite effects on the blood pressure of their partners would be an illustration of pets serving a compensatory function in those cases.


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