Here I sit, once again, with a Blogging 101 assignment at the forefront of my mind. The task is to link back to a comment left on another blog and to expound on it. Well, luckily I also reblogged the post which I commented on, so you all already got to see the cute dog joke about protons having mass. Remember that? If not, this links to the original post. If you want another laugh, I will share the fact that I mentioned to the writer (sharer?) that the picture was “doggone funny.” Get it???
Anyway, the post got me thinking about my take on whether dogs actually do have a sense of humor. I remember there being studies pointing to the fact that dogs laugh. Here is an article which expounds on that: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/200911/do-dogs-laugh. Would that be a sign that they could experience an emotion closely linked to humor? And what about playfulness? That play bow that many dog owners are so familiar with signals not only that there is an invitation to play, but also that there is a frivolity about the whole thing. Would that be considered humor?
I suppose we should consult the experts. Merriam-Webster.com defines humor as:
: a funny or amusing quality
: jokes, funny stories, etc., of a particular kind
: the ability to be funny or to be amused by things that are funny
I am not sure if the doggie laughter can necessarily be linked to this definition, as in studies it seems to have occurred more as a sign of joy than amusement. However, the play bow is another matter. In this case, I think we have both a bit of “funny” and “amusing.” In fact, I have often seen dogs inject an extra sense of enthusiasm and silliness into the bow. Dropping down, dust flying, then leaping to a position nearby, still in a bow, sometimes barking, always smiling. I find this highly amusing as a human. However, more importantly, dogs find it extremely amusing. They pay attention to the display with heightened interest and are often enticed to engage in play with the frivolous instigator. Even the frolicking that follows seems to point to the fact that dogs have a sense of not only joy, but humor and amusement. During roughhousing, dogs often slap each other with paws, bump each other and take off, grab body parts in a playful manner, and do other things which fall nothing short of a comedy routine.
As a final note, I will leave you with a story I found at http://www.animalliberationfront.com/Practical/Pets/DoDogsHaveHumor.htm:
Author Stanley Coren tells of his Cairn Terrier, Flint, who frequently seemed to try to amuse his owners. On one occasion, Stanley’s wife Karen was having friends over for coffee. Flint hung around the guests, perhaps hoping for a morsel of food. Karen shooed the dog away and told him to go find something interesting to do. Flint obediently left, only to return with one of Karen’s undergarments in his mouth. Coren writes, “Evading capture, he proceeded to flagrantly snap it from side to side with great joy – to the amusement of the company and the dismay of my wife.”
After reading of such accounts, one can’t help but believe dogs do have a sense of humor…apparently sometimes served up with a wicked dose of sarcasm!