Among last week's Groundbreaking Scientific Revelations comes news that dogs practise the empathic yawn, formerly believed (by nongs who have clearly eschewed the common Harlot passtime of anthropo-kynoid collaborative yawning) to have been the preserve of humans and similar primates.
Firstly, why didn't I devise a research project that would require me to yawn at twenty-nine dogs? Secondly, did the researchers give these dogs unfettered access to the biscuit jar in the staff common room? Thirdly, do the dogs get credit towards their degree programs in exchange for participating in the survey?
Quoth the BBC, "The researchers explained that along with floppy ears and big soppy-eyes, humans have selected dogs to be obedient and docile. The results from this study suggest the capacity for empathy towards humans is another trait selected in dogs during domestication". Yar, yar, yar, it's common knowledge that we have been interfering with the reproductive lives of dogs in ways so egregious they make China's one-child policy sound like a human rights triumph. We decide who has puppies, and we decide whom that puppy-haver has puppies with. We generally decide when a mother is separated from her puppies, and whither those puppies go. This we do in order to ensure maximum convenience to humans in the human-doggly partnership. Sometimes human convenience is so perverse and whimsical that we deliberately breed dogs who have difficulty breathing and giving birth.
But - you heard it here first, evolutionary theorists - I put it to you that dogs have been selectively breeding domestic humans in order to maximise canine-compliance* for centuries. Not for nothing does a wise pup urge her human out of the house for walkies. Nay, it is to increase the human's chances of meeting a potential breeding partner. It's a Scientific Fact that a human walking with a dog is 478% more likely to interact with other members of their own species than a human walking without a dog, and, of course, the humans who interact in the presence of the dog will, in the majority of cases, both be dog compliant. If one of the humans is not dog-compliant, the presence of the dog decreases the chances of the humans interacting. Thus the dog dramatically raises the likelihood of his or her domestic human meeting potential mates, reproducing, and - this is key - reproducing with another dog-compliant human.
Relatedly, anecdotal evidence suggests that dogs regularly interfere with the reproductive activities of the humans with whom they share their home. A judiciously placed wet nose can effectively disrupt any attempts at reproduction that a dog feels will jeopardise the prospect of dog-compliant offspring.
I will be forwarding these observations to the biology program at Birkbeck College forthwith, and recommending that they redirect their research energies into investigating indices of dog-compliance in the domestic human.
* While definitions of dog-compliance vary, common attributes include low resistance to requests for food, willingness to handle soggy tennis balls, and a relaxed approach to upholstery cleanliness.