Couch Potato

February 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m not sure whether to be thankful that Maple does not exhibit traits of a coach potato, or wishful that she did. I’m generally not big on channel surfing, but there are days when I think how wonderful it would be to have Maple accompany me in the living room watching an episode of ‘Chef At Home’—Maple and I could both salivate in unison as we imagine smelling the aromas of Chef Michael Smith’s kitchen creations. Unfortunately, Maple’s attention span won’t last a minute of an episode. I guess Maple is just not that into TV-watching.

I find this peculiar, since I have always thought that dogs are highly amused by the moving images and audio sounds generated by a TV. But, do dogs really know what it is they are watching?

Pet experts say that a lot of dogs will actually follow the movement of objects on the screen–and may even bark. However a dog doesn’t see the screen the same way we do. Although dogs don’t see exclusively in black and white (as many people think), they don’t have the same range of color that humans do. There are fewer cones (color vision cells) in a dog’s eye than in a human’s eye. Yet, dogs have many more rods (light and motion detectors) than we do, so although they see a limited spectrum, they can see better at night. Dogs can also see flickering light better than we can, which means they might even be able to see individual frames in a television sequence where we would see a continuous scene.

Because of the anatomy of a dog’s eyes, the dog cannot tell what an object on the screen actually is. But the movement and shapes he is able to see can be pretty intriguing! The sounds emitted from the television are attention-grabbers as well. Because dogs can pinpoint the directional origin of sounds they hear, the TV can be quite aurally entertaining. Although experts say that a dog’s acute hearing can differentiate between a television sound and a live sound, many a dog still seem to be fairly well entertained by the sounds coming from the set.

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I think Maple is utterly bored by the TV—she would gaze at the screen for no more than ten seconds before turning her eyes over to MM and I with a look of displeasure (interpretation: “Momsy and Popsy, when will you snap back to reality and play another game of fetch with me?”). If neither MM and I respond, Maple would then entertain herself by getting into all sorts of trouble. This is especially so when MM and I are engrossed in a two-hour movie—one eye would be on the TV screen and the other on Maple. The constant pause|play|stop|rewind|play can be rather interruptive and has made movie-watching at home a little less enjoyable. *sigh*

Perhaps another way of looking at it is that Maple simply disagrees with our choice of TV shows and movies. Who knows, maybe Maple would rather be watching MTV, ESPN, Disney, or CNN. If Maple is really that fickle with TV shows, then the same may go for movies. I think I’ll rent Hachiko: A Dog’s Story, starring Richard Gere, for our next Friday stay-at-home movie night. Let’s see if Maple will put her paw on the remote control for that one!

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