Monday, November 8, 2010

OK Go. Ok, Why?

OK Go - White Knuckles. Sharp, trained canines steal the show.

Ok, so OK GO has been a favorite band of mine. Not just for their peppy, perky music, but also for their highly creative videos. Though they verge on being a little "art student class project-y", they are always just sincerely quirky enough to not appear contrived.

That's how I usually think of them. But this one completely won me over because it starts, you guessed it, DOGS!

This video has been around for awhile, so forgive me if you're already bored and have moved on. I just rediscovered it on You Tube the other day and it nicely linked up with another topic that landed in my email box today.

It has to do with a show that will air tomorrow night (Tues., Nov. 9) on PBS on Nova.

It's called Dogs Decoded.

I have not seen the show, but I did browse through the website and it delves into some of those issues that dog people find endlessly fascinating: Just how did dogs come to be so successful in integrating themselves into human relationships? How are they able to understand us so well? How has one species become so "plastic" in their response to human selective breeding? How smart are they exactly?

Back to the video above, it's easy for anyone who trains dogs to break this well choreographed effort into a series of shaped behaviors. I absolutely love how the "tucked sit" heeling exercise is woven in among the more athletic jumps and spins, and how all of the dogs take their video star roles so seriously.

It reminds me of that aspect of dogs that loves it when they have a job -- whether they are a three-pound Chihuahua, or a 90-pound Rott.

There's something truly beautiful about the earnestness of a working dog, the way their very genetic makeup seems to find some neural harmony working in seamless tandem with a human partner.

It's something in the DNA that has origins extending back more than 100,000 years ago. Most surprisingly, it's still evolving. I've heard somewhere that due to the emphasis of modern training that puts the emphasis on the dog's ability to carry out complex tasks, dogs are getting smarter.

Stack up the training intelligence of the recently developed Border Collie, for example, against more instinctive working, ancient hunting breeds, such as sight and scent hounds.

How will the developing influence of complex, canine performance sports affect the evolving intelligence of dogs?

OK? Go.

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