Too often, at great expense and effort, scientists succeed in merely confirming what we already know to be true.
A recent example is the publication of a study in the journal Current Biology which found — GASP! — dogs remember (“have episodic memory”) their owners’ actions!
The report was authored by a team of Hungarian researchers: Claudia Fugazza, Akos Pogány, and Ádám Miklósi.
Here’s the report’s summary, written in typical academic jargon:
“The existence of episodic memory in non-human animals is a debated topic that has been investigated using different methodologies that reflect diverse theoretical approaches to its definition. A fundamental feature of episodic memory is recalling after incidental encoding, which can be assessed if the recall test is unexpected [ 1 ]. We used a modified version of the “Do as I Do” method [ 2 ], relying on dogs’ ability to imitate human actions, to test whether dogs can rely on episodic memory when recalling others’ actions from the past. Dogs were first trained to imitate human actions on command. Next, they were trained to perform a simple training exercise (lying down), irrespective of the previously demonstrated action. This way, we substituted their expectation to be required to imitate with the expectation to be required to lie down. We then tested whether dogs recalled the demonstrated actions by unexpectedly giving them the command to imitate, instead of lying down. Dogs were tested with a short (1 min) and a long (1 hr) retention interval. They were able to recall the demonstrated actions after both intervals; however, their performance declined more with time compared to conditions in which imitation was expected. These findings show that dogs recall past events as complex as human actions even if they do not expect the memory test, providing evidence for episodic-like memory. Dogs offer an ideal model to study episodic memory in non-human species, and this methodological approach allows investigating memory of complex, context-rich events.”
Not only do dogs remember their owners’ actions, some dogs remember so well, they would wait — in some cases, for years — for their dead owners. See, for example:
- Faithful dog stays by coffin of Italian earthquake victim
- Dog waits outside dead master’s home every day for 5 years
- Dog waits in Siberian cold for 1+ years on side of road where owner was killed
- Heartbroken dog visits owner’s grave site every day
- Dog Stands Guard Over His Master’s Grave
- Heartbroken dog attends daily Mass
- Stray dogs attend funeral service of woman who had fed them
- Little dog walks 20 blocks to find cancer-stricken owner in hospital
- Dog waits 8 days in parking lot for hospitalized owner
Here’s another heart-breaking example. You’ll need a hanky . . . .
A German Shepherd waits for weeks outside the Houston apartment of his owner, 54-year-old Hatem Abuharbid, a small convenience-store owner who was killed during a robbery on Feb. 7, 2016.
H/t FOTM‘s josephbc69