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  1. Dean Pomerleau

    Organ Donation

    Don't view organ donation as giving part of yourself to keep a total stranger alive. It's really teaming with a stranger to keep part of you alive. --Anonymous You can't take it with you - become an organ donor.
  2. As a dog owner and dog lover, I was interested and please to read this new study [1] (press release), which found dogs exhibit prosocial behavior to other dogs, and especially those whom they know. Its well-known that dogs (and their predecessors, wolves) are very social creatures. And the willingness of dogs to help humans is extremely well documented (e.g. famously, Lassie rescuing Timmy from the well. Although, what really happened was Lassie pushed a mean man down the well after he tried to hurt Timmy, so Lassie's moral status in this instance is not beyond reproach ). But just how helpful dogs were to other dogs has not been (well) studied, until now. The authors of [1] gave dogs the opportunity to pull either of two ropes, one that would give a dog in a neighboring cage a food treat, and one that would give the neighboring dog nothing. The donor dog got nothing out of the deal, except perhaps the good feeling that comes from helping a neighbor . And that is exactly what the donor dogs did, at least when the neighbor was a familiar dog (from the same household). Specifically, the donor dogs pulled the rope that gave his neighbor the treat significantly more often than the rope that gave no treat. Interestingly, the donor dog pulled the rope to give the neighbor the treat less often when the neighbor was a stranger dog than when the neighboring cage was empty - suggesting that dogs only feel the urge to help other dogs that they know, rather than any other dog, who they in fact may have some degree of aversion to - perhaps harkening back to their evolutionary heritage to exhibit in-group fealty and out-group hostility. Below is a picture of two of the subject dogs, and the apparatus used for the testing: So it looks like dogs aren't just man's best friend, they can be another dog's best friend too! --Dean ----------- [1] Nature's Scientific Reports. (2015) DOI: 10.1038/srep18102 Familiarity affects other-regarding preferences in pet dogs Mylene Quervel-Chaumette, Rachel Dale, Sarah Marshall-Pescini and Friederike Range Free full text: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep18102 Abstract Other-regarding preferences are considered to be the foundation of human cooperation. However, the evolutionary origin of this behavior in humans remains poorly understood. So far, comparative studies in primates have led to mixed conclusions probably due to methodological differences relating to both task complexity and the types of control conditions used. Moreover, no clear link between phylogenetic relatedness and prosociality has been found, suggesting that other convergent selection pressures may play a role in the evolution of such behaviors. Here, using one of the cognitively less demanding tasks, we show for the first time, that dogs can behave pro-socially by donating food to a conspecific partner, but only if the partner is familiar. This highlights the importance of considering the social relationships between individuals when testing animals for other-regarding behaviors. Moreover, by including a social control condition, we show that the dogs’ prosocial response was not due to a simple social facilitation effect. The current findings support recent proposals that other convergent selection pressures, such as dependence on cooperative activities, rather than genetic relatedness to humans, may shape a species’ propensity for other-regarding behaviors.