Many years ago when I first heard of dogs predicting epileptic seizures in their owners, I found it hard to believe. But as I pursued my emotion-as-energy theory of behavior it eventually came to make perfect sense. Now the internet carries reports of dogs reviving owners suffering a heart attack by CPR, actually punching their chests and licking their faces until they regained consciousness. The doctors who attended credited the dog with saving its owners’ life. You have to wonder is mouth-to-mouth next?


But does the dog comprehend that he is saving his owner’s life? No I don’t feel this is what’s happening. What’s going on is far more sublime, transcendental and "super" natural than that. It’s a function of emotion itself.

Dr. Wolpert, a leading neurobiologist from Cambridge University, maintains that the brain, and all its higher cognitive modules, evolved in service to motion. In my experience as a dog trainer this means that a dog sees and perceives things as a function of motion relative to resistance-to-motion. The motion of something means emotion is flowing within the dog. Whereas resistance to motion increases emotional pressure in the dog. We could say that motion divided by resistance = the emotional value of a stimulus, or feeling. (M/R = F)

You can test this for yourself. You could set up a situation where your dog is watching as you move across an area. The smoother and the faster you move, the more your dog becomes excited or perhaps just watches without perturbation. He feels your motion and is energized in a positive way. But then if you begin to stiffen your gait as if your muscles are bogging down into an emotional rigor mortis, your internal flow of energy becoming tension, you may see your dog begin to inflate with an internal pressure, its tail raises, its hackles might rise as it braces itself on all fours, it’s gathering itself. It’s feeling your tension, i.e., your internal resistance to motion.

Then, as you grindingly come to a halt, you slowly turn and face your dog while simultaneously increasing the intensity of your focused attention his way, the ultimate body posture of resistance (bearing in mind that this could incite an explosive burst of energy so as you do this take care to turn the knob on the rheostat (flow relative to resistance) carefully). Or, you could not do this experiment with your own dog and simply watch "helpers" working police dogs. Smooth body motion happily animates the dog, tension in the helper’s body pressurizes the dog. This is basic body language on a continuum of motion relative to resistance-to-motion. Motion relative to resistance-to-motion is the predicate of emotional experience in every interaction between any two emotional beings.

Let’s break it down further. Life on earth is about overcoming objects of resistance and this requires a two step process. First, when a dog sees something in motion, emotionally, it projects its sense of its physical center-of-gravity into the moving form and in this way it is able to apprehend the physical center-of-gravity of the object in motion. An object in pure motion is a simple object-of-attraction. And because inside every animal is an on/board genetically encoded calculus, it is able to "feel" or calculate where that object of attraction is going to be as it proceeds along its current trajectory.


("The Math Instinct" )



This intuitive math is how a dog "knows" how to catch a frisbee because in order for a predator to catch a prey it has to be able to calculate what the prey is going to do and where it is going to be before it gets there. Think of the classic footage of a cheetah catching a gazelle. WIth every twist and turn of the gazelle, the cheetah shaves each corner so as to gradually narrow their respective trajectories until at a point of intersection it can knock the gazelle off stride and finally overtake it.

However this simple computation isn’t enough when dealing with complex objects of resistance, by this I mean those animals that have the physical capacity to fight back in order to maintain equilibrium, and this is especially true for the dog given that it evolved from the wolf which hunts a prey that is much bigger and physically superior to itself. The epicenter in the anatomy of any emotional being that has the capacity to resist, is the shoulder assembly or forequarters. And so the next level of apprehension in this emotional template is where on the prey’s body a predator would be able to exert maximum physical leverage so as to bring it down against this fulcrum point of resistance.

Now even though we’re talking about a dog relating to its beloved owner in everyday life and in some rare cases of going on to perform CPR, we’re still dealing with the archetypal emotional template with which the animal mind (the human animal included) perceives reality and makes sense of the things toward which it feels attracted. What I’m headed for here is that animals look at complex objects of resistance by assaying their heart, and the grossest physical manifestation of what’s going on within the heart is manifested by the degree of "upward thrust" in the forequarters that maintains the organism’s equilibrium and thereby sustains the possibility for forward motion.

When a body is in motion, all the forces of acceleration and lateral, side to side motion, the up and down forces of body mechanics, all of these average out and are held in "memory" by the heart, which is of course housed in the epicenter of the shoulder assembly. This is where the individual feels a sense of flow (equilibrium plus momentum). For example, when someone’s shoulders are slumped this indicates a deflated heart. The dog perceives the shoulder region and its "upward thrust" as the epicenter of resistance in complex forms of attraction, its owner included. This is the region against which predator must leverage all its physical energy to overcome the prey’s capacity to preserve its balance and keep fighting or get away. This is the region against which the dog must leverage its emotional and/or physical energy in order to feel connected to its owner. In the prey/predator dynamic when the predator has leverage, the prey is brought to ground. (This is why bulldogs target the bull’s nose.) In the dog/owner dynamic when the dog has emotional leverage, the dog FEELS CONNECTED, i.e. its emotional energy is brought to ground (this is why dogs can be driven to get in another dog or person’s face in order to assure contact).

We see this template in all behavior. A lion will jump on the back of a large prey and try to topple it over by making it top heavy and leveraging against its upward thrust. Also note how one dog will approach and then ride its chin up on the shoulder region of another dog and then begins to press down. This has been misinterpreted as establishing dominance, but the "dominant" dog is just trying to overcome the other dog’s upward thrust, or resistance, as a first step in making contact. Finally, the equal and opposite of overcoming resistance, is when a dog surrenders its own epicenter of thrust by rolling on its back and writing its shoulder blades against the ground. It’s feeling connected to the earth, especially if aroused by fresh snow, wet dew, carrion or you know what, or even as an indirect means of feeling connected to another dog it would like to play with.

As further evidence that this is a universal mode of apprehension, below is a link to a dog performing CPR on a ball at rest.


Most dogs, unlike the one in this video, perceive a ball as a simple object of attraction and only chase one when it’s thrown. The resistance value is added by the owner. There are a lot of dogs however that will play with a ball by themselves, and this means they are projecting a "negative" onto its positive value of motion and from this the ball attains the complexity of a Being in the dog’s mind. It becomes an object of resistance that thus engenders a complex emotional value, for example, as was portrayed in the movie "Castaway" with the relationship that developed between Tom Hanks’ character and "Wilson." And while most dogs that harbor an imaginary ball friend in their mind, are content to just nudge, pounce, or grab-shake-toss a ball to get it moving, in the video this particular dog is zeroing in on the source of resistance within the ball and hitting its center mass perfectly so that the dog’s force is reflected right back to it. This return force penetrates to the epicenter of the dog’s upward thrust, i.e. its heart, and then with exquisite timing the dog beats out another pulse. Energy out, energy in, a perfect feedback loop that links the ball’s center mass to the dog’s heart. Because of the elasticity of the ball, the dog’s energy is returned to it with no loss of momentum and this full return of energy enables the dog to project more and more complex feelings onto the ball, just as if it is dealing with a living being. And this is because a fundamental principle of motion, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, is how an animal’s mind constructs a sense of its "self" from its interactions with the external world. It then perceives this self in complex objects of resistance, be they animate or inanimate if such things can reflect energy right back at the dog in equal measure. (This emotional jujitsu is how a cat acquires for itself a high resistance emotional value in a dog’s mind and thereby trains it.) This equal/opposite emotional rhythm is essential for emotional synchronization so that a social relationship can emerge. It is not hyperbolic or metaphorical to say that the dog in this video is feeling exactly what the ball is feeling because on the grossest physical plane of consciousness, they are indeed experiencing the same back and forth of energetic forces.

Now most of us are probably not going to be able to count on our dog rushing to the rescue by performing CPR if heaven forbid one day we should need his cardio resuscitation services (although a good face licking is probably a given). However, nevertheless we can be assured that each and every day our dog is running its canine-cardio diagnostics on us whatever we may be doing. It is always feeling what’s going on in our emotional epicenter. In my view this is more sublime than any "Lassie; HURRY, Go Get the Sheriff" romantic fantasies Hollywood knows we like to enjoy. The truth is that nature is a mirror, it can reflect our fantasies back to us, or it can reflect something rather remarkable: Heart is real.