A Japanese study published in the journal Science involving a vast array of modern dog breeds ranging from Golden Retrievers to Schnauzers, Boxers, Poodles, German Shepherds, Pit Bulls . . . went looking for the reason underneath why they are, in fact, man’s best friend. It seems that our four legged friends freely unlock a cascade of oxytocin as they look into our eyes—and we them. The architects of the Japanese study believe this phenomenon is thoroughly the result of centuries of mutual involvement with each other.
Since the beginning of time dogs and humans were so simpatico that they eagerly sought each other out and through the centuries found themselves in an even more solid relationship predicated upon this fundamental neuropeptide. Evolutionary oxytocin has deepened the emotional bonds of a relationship that clearly transcends both man and beast. Just like any two lovers; mother and a child, lovers, best friends’ oxytocin became not only the symptom but the cause of an extraordinary resonance that jumped species. In other words Fido is looking at you just as much for YOU as he is that biscuit in your hand. Did anyone see the news story a few days ago about the little dog that walked 20 blocks through Cedar Rapids Iowa to find and comfort his ailing owner in the hospital? Watch this video and be ready to cry.
But not wolves! No love is lost between these fundamentally dissimilar creatures and man. Nor can oxytocin be teased out of wolves. Pavlov notwithstanding, wolves are a whole other creature that can’t afford to make a lot of oxytocin. Their lives, from the dawn of their evolution, have been way too rough. Fundamentally shy, wolves are creatures of prey that have survived on this planet by distrusting any and all creatures beyond their narrow realm of existence—even themselves! Wolves don’t even trust each other—unless its mating season when the oxytocin is flowing. Whereas Fido is taught in his formative months (not years) to trust his adoring master, wolves have never been, nor will they ever be, so privileged. Fido takes for granted that he will be played with, fed, watered, groomed, inoculated, walked, petted, sung to, stroked, scratched on his chest between his front legs, clipped, admired, medicated, bathed, driven to the dog park, sent to special school, baby sat, shall I go on? Oh, I forgot LOVED with all of the oxytocin his master can muster.
Practically every human behavior and emotion you share with your most companionable friends you share with your dog (s). To be sure, for every triple-latte-mocha-wielding, leash-wielding dog “somebody” down at Starbucks, you can bet there is a cup of chilled Evian water waiting on the sidewalk for Fido to knock over. And why not, his loving and oh so attentive master will just fill it again for him.
After thousands of years of this mutually evolving relationship the human/canine love story is yielding more oxytocin than an Arabian oil field. But, back to wolves. Your boyfriend acting a little disinterested? Here’s another interesting fact about wolves vs. happily domesticated dogs. Did you know that with the exception of mating season, male wolves’ testicles are the size of lima beas? The expression, “All meat and no potatoes comes to mind.” It’s true, male wolves depend on a bitch wolf’s estrus to increase their volume, and their urgency. Aka; grow a pair. Not so our Fido. Fido is—presuming he hasn’t been fixed—ready to go at any time 24/7 just like you’re husband, boyfriend, paramour, fiancé, should be. My point being that if the stresses of modern life is causing the man in your life to be overly aggressive and under attentive in the love department, (betraying thousands of years of evolution) then you should know that whether you are a Golden Retriever, a Schnauzer, a Boxer, a Poodle, a German Shepherd, or a Pit Bull with social issues, nasal oxytocin supplementation has shown scientific results as a trigger to improved social skills, sex, stress reduction, including post-traumatic stress disorder, and general ennui.