We love cats and dogs – we treat them like children. In many respects they are like children. Domesticated animals, without the threat of predators and the harshness of nature, become about 30% smaller in every way because their bodies produce less growth and other hormones. Dogs never really grow to become “wolfs” – they are forever trapped in a time warp as teenagers. They forever stay young in appearance (rounded friendly eyes), playful (chase a ball at any age), bark and yelp (only wolf puppies do that in the wild) and stay dependent to their human parent guardians. Dogs basically develop to the stage of a 2.5 year old human baby – learn about 250-300 words and pout when they don’t get their way.
Then there is this problem related to episodic memory. Small kids and non-humans don’t have it. This is the ability to associate events with time. Dogs and cats are divine since they don’t have any space or time concepts. The average short term memory of a baby or dog is less than 2 minutes. Hide a toy behind your back and hold it there for a short period – “it’s all gone”. Walk out of the room and reenter in about an hour – you will be greeted by your dog with the same enthusiasm as when you first came into the room (same as the movie “50 First Dates” starring Sandler and Barrymore).
Don’t worry though, dogs do have biological memory – they will associate you as the nice person that gives them a treat or a reassuring pat on the head. I know, since I am met by three salivating dogs every morning, expecting their daily chicken jerky.
-Dr. Steve Tsengas, President and CEO