- line from Longfellow's 1874 poem, The Hanging of the Crane - a ceremony in which a newly married couple's new cooking pot was suspended over a fire in their new home - referring to babies the couple would have 'speaking' with their eyes before they learn to talk.
While making myself finish a chapter on PD Villain (see post 29 May A police dog in the family) after yet another of my approach-avoidance conflicts, I read Tom Whipple's newspaper report, Puppy dog eyes show who's master, on a scientific study attributing the dog's imploring look to a facial muscle that dogs have but wolves, their ancestors, don't.
On the left you can see Tandy with her ball looking expectantly at the person coming towards her to play ball, ready to upgrade the look to imploring if the person doesn't immediately oblige. The photo on the right shows them having a break together afterwards.
In their study, Kaminski et al state that 'mutual gaze between dogs and humans seems to trigger an increase of oxytocin [the love hormone] in both species' - analogous to the effect of the mutual gaze between human mothers and their newborn.
Puppy dog eyes
For expressive eyes, spaniels like my dog Gipsy (see my post of 29 May) with big, wide-set eyes possibly have the edge on German Shepherd dogs like Villain and Tandy with near-set eyes in wolf-like faces - but all dogs are hard-wired for these 'puppy dog eyes', the result of selection during domestication based on humans' preferences (Kaminski et al). I once had a bookmark with a spaniel and the Longfellow quote although his poem refers not to a dog but to the children to come of a marriage being celebrated in a crane hanging ceremony.
Sources: Maine Historical Society https://www.hwlongfellow.org/poems_poem.php?pid=155; Tom Whipple, The Times, Tuesday June 18, 2019; Juliane Kaminski and colleagues, June 17 2019 Evolution of facial muscle anatomy in dogs https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/06/11/1820653116
It's almost two years since I published In Our Fathers' Footsteps (see under BOOKS). My latest book, One Dog and His Cop, about my cousin's police dog,was published 30 November this year (see under BOOKS).