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Canus Familiarus

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/10014889/Meet-Lamo-the-sheep-that-thinks-hes-a-dog.html

Ethology is the study of animal behavior.  I pulled out my old ethology notes from undergrad this week trying to find the correct term or idea behind Lamo’s ‘domestication’.  Because I think that is what his “owner” did, she took a sheep and made a dog.

There could be several ways this happened.

Imprinting is life stage sensitive learning, where an individual (animal or human) learns characteristic behavior from another.  Think of the juvenile cranes in Wisconsin who fly behind the ultralight with its crane costumed pilot all the way to Florida.

Imitation is where an animal mimics or replicates the behavior of another.  A mother and baby playing peek-a-boo comes to mind.

Stimulus enhancement is learning interest in an object after observing the interest of another. Perhaps Lamo observed how the family dogs interacted with their owner (in this case the object) and wanted to involve himself too.

Associative learning is essentially putting two and two together.  Does your pet know that you get out of bed AFTER the alarm goes off? From the article it sounds like Lamo can figure out when he gets a car ride.

Perhaps Lamo was born with a higher ‘sociability’ tendency, that is, willingness to interact in social groupings.  This is a key in dog domestication, as most live for interaction with others.  But cats are semi-domesticated at best.  Yes, many can’t live with out their humans but there are some cats (usually feral) that have no desire for human or other cat relationship.

I can’t find the right term for taking one species of animal and making it think it’s another. Species subversion? Aberrant mimicry? Humane rescue?dogassquirrelMore later…………………………………………………………….

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2 comments on “Canus Familiarus

  1. Maybe this sheep realized that life as a dog was a much better one. Life as a dog involves constant human contact and attention. The sheep might be smart enough to know that humans spoil their dogs to the extreme. When was the last time a human spoiled one of their sheep? Maybe being a sheep he knew this would never happen as long as he was a sheep. I keep saying animals are much more intelligent then we give them credit for………………here is a perfect example………………………..hats off to this sheep for being smart enough to want the good life!!!!

  2. Infants seem to have the same needs, mostly they need their mothers. I think we are just a blank.canvas as infants and we learn what we are taught. Seems actually very simple. I am certainly not an expert but I have held domestic baby animals and baby farm animals, doesn’t seem all too different at that stage of life….and when trust is formed between animal and human and the language of love develops, anything goes. Just my opinion…..see you this week.

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