Our first dog, Shadow, a Lab-Shepherd-something mix, was hyper and hated riding in cars. He was very protective of the house, but he also loved to bolt out of the front door when it was opened. There were a few times where we swore it looked as if he contemplated the reward / punishment choices - run free around the street for a minute or two while his owners yell at him / then sit in the bathroom alone for 5-10 minutes - and then chose the reward. When he got back to the house, he went straight to the bathroom. Obviously, that's conditioning, b/c he knew what came after a "jailbreak" from the house.
Our next three dogs were all Golden Retrievers. We got Kelsey in 1994 and she has been the mellowest dog I've ever had. She had her crazy puppy year, but after that, nothing fazed her. I could work in the front yard with her and she'd wander around but never leave my sight. If she did, she'd always come back. We did little to train her to be that way. Was it her personality that made her that way?
We got Riley in 2007 when Kelsey was on given a month to live. Kelsey lasted 18 more months w/ this pup (Misdiagnosis? Sure, and we go to another vet too). We think that some of Kelsey's mellowness rubbed off on Riley and she continues to be mellow to this day. If you know Golden Retrievers (or like most big dogs), they love to eat. Kelsey had a thyroid condition and ballooned up to 120 pounds but so far we've been watching Riley and keeping her more active and she's stayed at a good weight so far. Riley loves to swim; she can't wait to get the pool cover off in the spring and get in! Also, Riley is very submissive and a people pleaser as are most GRs. When she plays with other dogs, most times, she'll lay on her back and show her belly. She's not a fighter. Our oldest dog, Kelsey, could care less about other dogs. Why are they like this?
We got our newest dog, Izzy, in the summer of 2008, and we were able to have the pick of the female litter. She's Riley's half-sister - they have the same mom - and her breeder picked the sire for a mellow temperament. When the dogs were born around Memorial Day, we had about 7-8 weeks to pick out one that we liked the best. We went back and forth, but the true test came when we brought Riley to meet the puppies. Two of them wanted to feed off of Riley as if she was their mom, another wanted to sit on her head (we didn't want a domineering dog) and Izzy came up to her with her tail down and sniffed her. Then they proceeded to play and were smothered by the other pups. According to dog behaviorists, Izzy's behavior was the "proper" way to approach an adult dog that wasn't their parent if the dog will have a good temperament. However, Izzy has been the opposite of a good dog since we brought her home - probably b/c I've spoiled her. She's super hyper, has ripped up our couch, and is very high energy. She weighs at least 10 pounds less than Riley and doesn't have the same kind of fuzzy coat as Riley does. She's also been domineering with Riley and hated swimming at first but now enjoys it (or at least pretends to).
I use my dogs as examples of how animals seem to have different personalities much like everyone else has. But where do these different personalities come from? Is this what we mean by a mind? Other animals would have minds and personalities too if we spent enough time with them (look at Jane Goodall's research with the primates of Africa, for example). If this is so, what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom?
Pick two of the following questions to answer in 200 words or more:
1. We really don't have a mind but it's an explanation to describe how we think - we currently don't possess the language to accurately describe the thoughts or process going up there (points to brain). Agree or disagree. Why?
2. We cannot fully understand how our brain works and ourselves (including why we react emotionally to some things and not react to other things) and that's why attempts at creating artificial intelligence have failed. Agree or disagree? Why?
3. Is there a spiritual aspect to the mind (i.e., the soul)? Why or why not? If it's not the soul, then what?
4. O.k. So we have a mind. Then what? How does your understanding of the mind from this unit affect your decision-making in the real world with moral and ethical issues like the following:
- Abortion - does a fetus have a mind? If so, at what stage? If not, why not?
- Competency issues for mentally ill people who commit crimes - how responsible are they? Should temporary insanity actually be a defense (it's actually been around since 1858 in the U.S. and was successfully used as a defense in a sensational murder trial when a NY Senator, Daniel Sickles, killed his young wife's lover - Sickles' defense attorney was Lincoln's future Secretary of Defense Edwin Stanton)? Should mentally ill murderers be sentenced to death?
- What about the Terry Schiavo case in 2005? This is the woman who'd been living on artificial life support for over 10 yrs and her husband wanted to take her off the life support and try to move on with his life. Her parents had blocked her husband through the courts until it came down to the President and Congress getting involved in early 2005. Mostly, it became about pro-life politics, unfortunately, vs. the right to die w/ dignity, and her parents had denied her that a long time ago. Her husband eventually won this very public battle over what probably should have been a very private death.
Due Monday, February 1st. Study hard!