Here is an intriguing article from NPR about my good friends, Dr. Marc Bekoff and his dog Jethro. It brings up a profound question about self awareness and self-consciousness in animals and the validity of current studies. I agree totally with Dr. Bekoff that just because a particular approach to evaluate animal behavior and consciousness does not confirm self awareness in different species does not mean that that particular animal, dogs for example, are not self aware. It merely means that that particular test does not validate that behavior in that species. Whenever I was challenged about the efficacy of acupuncture for particular conditions in animals and the lack of the gold standard of conventional research, the double blind placebo control study, I would simply state that to me, life existed before double blind placebo controlled trials. Does that mean life does not exist or is not real? As much as I love to see humane, ethical studies and research that document different approaches to animal health care or behavior, the lack of documentation does not mean that the approach or behavior is not valid. Lack of studies does not necessarily translate into lack of efficacy. Numerous articles have been published lately in the New York Times, Newsweek, etc. about the conflict of interest of so much research due to the lack of research funding that is not associated with a company that has a vested interest in the outcome.
I am suspicious that most people who share their lives with dogs would not question self awareness in their dogs. So dear kindred spirit, have you had experiences with your dog friends that you feel would document their own self awareness? Do you have a story, a video, that you believe could demonstrate this. Please share stories and video’s that you feel would document self awareness in dogs. We will collect them here and begin a new approach to documentation. Thank you for your assistance in this endeavor! Blessings!