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September 28, 2006

The testosterone made me do it

This article in my monthly University of Texas e-letter (Go Horns!) examines the correlation between the hormonal levels of people and their pets. Researchers say the study shows a link between high testosterone levels in male dog owners and high stress hormones in their dogs. The reason? When the dogs misbehave the testosterone-fueled men hit and yell at the dogs. This, in turn, upsets the dogs, increasing their stress hormones.

Well, duh!

It's interesting to me that researchers would spend time and money on something that a) is so common sense and b) could have been spent on researching how to identify the reasons for and ways to prevent testosterone-charged abuse of people.

They do get around to speculating at the end of the article that, gee, if these guys treat their dogs like this there is a possibility they might behave the same way towards people, particularly their children. But the bigger concern here seems to be the consequences of this type of behavior on dogs, especially dogs in high-stress jobs. The correlation between parents and children is sort of an afterthought.

Is this another example of our society's slide toward anthropomorphism and our desire to equate (or elevate) animals to a human level? My dog, my brother.

In any event, I guess that, unlike Barbara Walters's Havanese, dogs with high-stress occupations don't come home from a hard day's work to whisper sweet nothings in their high-testosterone human companion's ear. . .

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