I was in my customary spot at the kitchen window, gazing brainlessly at the world going by (a fairly sparse activity, on our quiet street), when a man and his dog sauntered into my consciousness.
He was new to me. I thought I knew everyone who wandered along on a regular basis, but I didn’t recognize him.
However, had you shown me the pet in one photo, and the man in another, perhaps posted somewhere on the other side of town, I would have put the two together, boom, like that.
The dog, poor thing, is older, placid and a little wobbly on his legs. I think he’s a border collie, but I suck at distinguishing breeds apart from the obvious poodles, retrievers and Labradors. He’s black and white and a little grey, and a wee bit heavier than he ought to be.
His human, perhaps in his fifties, has black salt-and-pepper hair, a slight slouch, and a wandering gait.
A perfect match.
This all came to me in a second, and in another flash, I was a child again, watching the classic animated movie 101 Dalmatians. There’s a segment in the film where dogs and their owners parade down the street, apparently separated at birth if you ignore that whole species problem.
For example, one slouchy woman with long red hair is walking a desultory afghan (I think; breed identification issues, you know). Pongo and Missis, the main dog characters, are very much like their owners, too, minus the spots; they are slim, sweet and sprightly, with similar noses.
So back to the window. Quite incredibly, five minutes later, one of the regulars walked by. This man has ramrod posture, a baldish, shiny head, and a big stride; just, like, his, dog. Okay, the dog isn’t bald, but he has very short hair. Fur. Whatever. They could almost be twins and certainly brothers, apart from that aforementioned species problem.
I’m sure you’ve heard the theory that people look like their pets, and for some reason choose them for similar appearances or traits. As an aside, there’s a small problem with this idea when peeps have several, very different pets; I’m still trying to figure out which of her menagerie members is supposed to be my sister.
But if the world walkin’ by is my petri dish, I can confirm that the pet-owner similarity has been scientifically proven.
I put it to the test on Twitter. Some of my Tweeps said their pets absolutely looked like them, and one or two proved it with photos. One had a bird, and she looked nothing at all like the pretty green creature; but she fell in love with the wee beast on sight, and the bird likes to preen her if she’s feeling low. That is So Cool. Therefore, I’m limiting my hypothesis on physical samesies to mammalian pets, and for ease, specifically dogs.
Of course, I had to look it up, to verify my findings.
The first piece I found was published in the Huffington Post. It was about a Japanese scientist who asked human subjects to look at a series of photographs, and attempt to match the dog to the owner. Of the 500 people canvassed — 500! — 80 per cent got it right. He also narrowed down the parameters by blocking off certain parts of the faces, and matching accuracy fell when the eyes were obscured. His finding: failing the entire face, the eyes have it.
Apparently, people either consciously or subconsciously choose pets based on similarity/familiarity. Selection doesn’t necessarily stop at physical characteristics, it seems: energy levels and personality traits (if you’re a go-getter, maybe you need a dog that can keep up) are also in play.
Which brings me to . . . should I get a dog? We’ve long resisted, just because we were never home. I’m home more now, and sometimes think it’s a bit lonely in here. Maybe I need a friend. One of those unconditional-love-type friends.
I’ve been thinking about a beagle. Do I look like a beagle? Is that good or bad? I do have fairly short legs, and a bit of a big-eyed, sad, longing look that I like to turn on my husband (poor guy) once in a while. (You know the drill. Can we go to Mexico, honey? Pleeease?) There’s also the, uh, big cute ear thing.
Or maybe a border collie. God knows I need herding sometimes. (Get back to work, you lazy human! I still love you, but come on, get cracking! Now that I’ve been helpful, where’s my treat?)
Another thought was a cocker spaniel. Our colouring would be very nice together. Or perhaps an Old English Sheepdog — a perfect match on the shaggy hair, at least in the two weeks before I get it cut.
No pushed-in wrinkly faces for me, as cute as they are. If I looked in the mirror and saw myself reflected in my pug’s face, I would simply weep the day away.
Well, I’ll probably know him or her when I see him or her. In the meantime, I have a new hobby. I can’t look at a dog walking his human without surreptitiously checking out their samie-ness.