Last week was a lesson in child rearing. No, I did not give birth or adopt a slew of children from a Africa. My husband and I simply looked after a friend's dog.
Normally, our mid-sized mutt is pretty low key. He doesn't care if you pet him or even look in his direction. As long as you feed him, he's happy. Our friend's dog is a terrier who loves people. He wanted to spend the entire week in our lap, on our bed, or just jumping up on our knees.
Suddenly, our normally aloof dog wanted all the attention. He was constantly giving me a look that I hadn't seen since my babysitting days. It was that pleading, whiny, "It's not fair!" glare that I thought only children could muster.
Enter Friederike Range, a researcher at the University of Vienna in Austria. She recently published a study confirming that dogs really do understand fairness. Apparently, if you ask two dogs to do a trick and only reward one of them, the other feels slighted. The treat-less dog will give a cold stare, ignore you, and finally refuse to obey commands, just because they think the other dog is getting a better deal. Dogs are just like kids!
Okay, the study didn't prove that last point, but a full week of watching the dogs fight over who gets our love and attention (not to mention the 6am wake up calls) is proof enough in my book.
Photo of Kudzu (our dog) and Crash Dog (our friend's terrier) racing by rorris