《经济学人》:狗-人们最好的朋友
日期:2011-08-17 10:23

(单词翻译:单击)

Human beings and dogs
人类和狗

Man’s best friend
人们最好的朋友

Scientific research throws new light on a very old partnership
科学研究对这一古老的伙伴关系作出新的阐述

Aug 6th 2011 | from the print edition

Dog Sense: How the New Science of Dog Behaviour Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet. By John Bradshaw. Basic Books; 324 pages; $25.99. Published in Britain as “In Defence of Dogs: Why Dogs Need Our Understanding”. Allen Lane; £20. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk

《狗的感官:对狗的习性的最新科学研究可使你与之更好地相处》 。作者:John Bradshaw ,Basic Books出版,324页,定价:$25.99。在英国发行名为“为狗辩护:为什么狗需要我们理解”,Allen Lane出版,可至Amazon.com或 Amazon.co.uk购买。

THE relationship between people and dogs is unique. Among domesticated animals, only dogs are capable of performing such a wide variety of roles for humans: herding sheep, sniffing out drugs or explosives and being our beloved companions. It is hard to be precise about when the friendship began, but a reasonable guess is that it has been going strong for more than 20,000 years. In the Chauvet cave in the Ardèche region of France, which contains the earliest known cave paintings, there is a 50-metre trail of footprints made by a boy of about ten alongside those of a large canid that appears to be part-wolf, part-dog. The footprints, which have been dated by soot deposited from the torch the child was carrying, are estimated to be about 26,000 years old.

人们和狗的关系算得上独一无二。在驯养动物中,只有狗能在人们生活中扮演各种各样的角色:牧羊,嗅探毒物或炸药,更是我们亲爱的伙伴。人们无法精确得知这种友谊从何时算起,但通过合理猜测这深刻的友谊早在2万年前就开始了。位于法国阿尔代什省的肖维岩洞,内有现存的最早的岩画,其中有一段10岁男孩留下的长达50米的足印,在它的旁边是大型犬类半狼半狗的动物足印。根据小男孩手上的火炬留下的烟灰估计,这些脚印起源于2万6千年前。

The first proto-dogs probably remained fairly isolated from each other for several thousand years. As they became progressively more domesticated they moved with people on large-scale migrations, mixing their genes with other similarly domesticated creatures and becoming increasingly dog-like (and less wolf-like) in the process. For John Bradshaw, a biologist who founded the anthrozoology department at the University of Bristol, having some idea about how dogs got to be dogs is the first stage towards gaining a better understanding of what dogs and people mean to each other. Part of his agenda is to explode the many myths about the closeness of dogs to wolves and the mistakes that this has led to, especially in the training of dogs over the past century or so.

原始狗的种群最初是独来独往的,这持续了几千年。随着他们被人们驯服后,便大规模地迁移至人类居住地,与其他类似的驯养动物杂交,基因的融合使之渐渐形成了现代狗的模样(而非狼的模样)。本书作者,生物学家John Bradshaw,就职于布里斯托尔大学,人类与动物关系学学科的建立者,他认为要了解狗和人之间如何相互理解,就必须知道狗是如何进化而来的。他的研究之一就是探寻狼和狗的亲缘关系,以及因此带来的错误观念,尤其是在过去一百年内在驯狗方面的误导。

One idea has governed dog training for far too long, Mr Bradshaw says. Wolf packs are supposedly despotic hierarchies dominated by alpha wolves. Dogs are believed to behave in the same way in their dealings with humans. Thus training a dog effectively becomes a contest for dominance in which there can be only one winner. To achieve this the trainer must use a variety of punishment techniques to gain the dog’s submission to his mastery. Just letting a dog pass through a door before you or stand on the stairs above you is to risk encouraging it to believe that it is getting the upper hand over you and the rest of the household. Mr Bradshaw argues that the theory behind this approach is based on bad and outdated science.

Bradshaw说,有种观念长期主导了人们对狗的驯养。一般认为狼的种群是受阿尔法狼的专制。于是们认为人与狗的相处也有类似之处。因此驯狗的方式变成一种竞争,赢家只有一个。为了达到这个目的,驯狗者用尽各种惩罚使狗驯服。比如在你面前让狗穿过一扇门,或者站在比你位置高的楼梯上,其实是在鼓励使它知道自己的地位已在你和家人之上。Bradshaw批判说,这种方法所基于的理论本身就是错误和过时的。

Dogs share 99.6% of the same DNA as wolves. That makes dogs closer to wolves than we are to chimps (with which we have about 96% of our DNA in common), but it does not mean that their brains work like those of wolves. Indeed, the outgoing affability of most dogs towards humans and other dogs is in sharp contrast to the mix of fear and aggression with which wolves react to animals from other packs. “Domestication has been a long and complex process,” Mr Bradshaw writes.“Every dog alive today is a product of this transition. What was once another one of the wild social canids, the grey wolf, has been altered radically, to the point that it has become its own unique animal.” If anything, dogs resemble juvenile rather than fully adult canids, a sort of arrested development which accounts for the way they remain dependent on their human owners throughout their lives.

狗和狼有着99.6%相同的基因。这使得狗和狼之间的关系就像人和黑猩猩一样(两者的基因有96%的相同),但这却不意味着狗和狼的思维方式相似。实际上,大多数狗对人们很开朗而亲切,而恰恰相反的是,狼对其他动物的态度却既恨又怕。“驯化是一个漫长而复杂的过程”,Bradshaw写到,“现存的每一只狗都是驯化的产物。曾经有一种群居野生犬类动物灰狼,现在已经彻底转变成为一个独特物种。”总之,狗相比成年的犬科动物而言,更像是幼年的犬类,这种停滞的发展解释了为什么它们的一生都离不开主人。

But what makes the dog-wolf paradigm especially misleading, Mr Bradshaw argues, is that until recently, the studies of wolves were of the wrong wolves in extremely artificial conditions. In the wild, wolf packs tend to be made up of close family members representing up to three generations. The father and mother of the first lot of cubs are the natural leaders of the pack, but the behavioural norm is one of co-operation rather than domination and submission. However, the wolves on which biologists founded their conclusions about dominance hierarchies were animals living in unnaturally constituted groups in captivity. Mr Bradshaw says that feral or “village” dogs, which are much closer to the ancestors of pet dogs than they are to wolves, are highly tolerant of one another and organise themselves entirely differently from either wild or captive wolves.

Bradshaw说,一直到最近,科研中的“狼”从来都是人工环境下的狼,因此导致了狼和狗的模式问题上的误导。在野外,狼群都是由三代以内的近亲成员组成。狼群中第一批幼崽的父母成为这个群体的领袖,但它们的行为准则是一种合作,而不是统治和服从。然而,生物学家所研究的狼群是被捕获的,并非自然构成的群体,因此会得出关于狼群等级制度的结论。Bradshaw认为,野狗和土狗相比于狼而言,与宠物狗的祖先更相近,彼此之间更加包容,它们的组织与野狼或是捕获的狼都是截然不同的。

Dogs are not like nicely brought-up wolves, says the author, nor are they much like people despite their extraordinary ability to enter our lives and our hearts. This is not to deny that some dogs are very clever or that they are capable of feeling emotion deeply. But their intelligence is different from ours. The idea that some dogs can understand as many words as a two-year-old child is simply wrong and an inappropriate way of trying to measure canine intellect. Rather, their emotional range is more limited than ours, partly because, with little sense of time, they are trapped almost entirely in the present. Dogs can experience joy, anxiety and anger. But emotions that demand a capacity for self-reflection, such as guilt or jealousy, are almost certainly beyond them, contrary to the convictions of many dog owners.

作者认为,虽然狗有着非同寻常的能力走入人们的生活和心灵,但它们并不像精心养育的狼,也和人不同。这并不是在否认,某些狗是非常聪明的,或者能深刻感受人们的情感。但它们的智慧与我们不同。有种说法,某些狗能理解的词汇量相当于一个两岁孩子,这其实是一种错误且不恰当地衡量犬科动物智力的办法。在一定程度上说,狗的情感范围比人类的窄,部分是因为其时间观念不强,它们的时间观完全局限于“现在时”。狗能体会快乐、不安、恐惧。但是与狗主人所认为的不同,大多数的狗无法体会那些需要自省力的情感,例如内疚或嫉妒。

Mr Bradshaw believes that it is difficult for people to empathise with the way in which dogs experience and respond to the world through their extraordinary sense of smell: their sensitivity to odours is between 10,000 and 100,000 times greater than ours. A newly painted room might be torture for a dog; on the other hand, their olfactory ability and their trainability allow dogs to perform almost unimaginable feats, such as smelling the early stages of a cancer long before a normal medical diagnosis would detect it.

Bradshaw认为,人们总想寻找某些特殊的方法,通过狗敏锐嗅觉使之与周围世界沟通(狗的嗅觉是人类的1万到10万倍),这其实是很困难的。一间新粉刷好的房间对狗而言是种折磨;从另一方面讲,正是狗的嗅觉和它们的可驯养性,使之能够做一些不可思议的事,例如能通过嗅觉发现早期癌症,且比普通医疗诊断更早。

The latest scientific research can help dogs and their owners have happier, healthier relationships by encouraging people to understand dogs better. But Mr Bradshaw is also fearful. In particular, he deplores the incestuous narrowing of the gene pool that modern pedigree breeders have brought about. Dogs today are rarely bred for their working abilities (herding, hunting, guarding), but for a very particular type of appearance, which inevitably risks the spread of physical and temperamental abnormalities. Instead, he suggests that dogs be bred for the ideal behavioural traits associated with the role they will actually play. He also worries that the increasing urbanisation of society and the pressures on couples to work long hours are putting dogs under huge strain. He estimates that about 20% of Britain’s 8m dogs and America’s 70m suffer from “separation distress” when their owners leave the house, but argues that sensible training can teach them how to cope.

这些最新科研能促使人们更好地理解狗,使狗和主人间的关系更愉快更健康。但是Bradshaw也有所担忧。他尤其反对为了培育纯种狗而近亲杂交,这会导致基因谱的缩窄。现在人们养狗极少看重他们的工作能力(放牧、打猎、看守),而是关注某种特别的外形,这不可避免的会导致狗的生理和性情的异常。他建议,养狗应注重其扮演角色和行为特点之间的联系。同时他也担忧日益都市化的社会和夫妻长时间工作的压力,会给狗带来巨大压力。他估计有20%的英国(8百万只)和美国(7千万)的狗,在主人离开家时承受着“离别的痛苦”。同时也提到合理的训练可以教会它们如何解脱。

“Dog Sense” is neither a manual nor a sentimental account of the joys of dog-ownership. At times its rigorously research-led approach can be slightly heavy going. A few more jolly anecdotes might have leavened the mix. But this is a wonderfully informative, quietly passionate book that will benefit every dog whose owner reads it.

《狗的感官》既不是一本养狗指南,也不是主人与狗之间乐事的描述。有时其严密的科研方法可能会有些晦涩难懂。其间更多的趣事或许能使阅读的心情平衡。这确是一本内容丰富、饱含激情的书,让你的狗受益匪浅。

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重点单词
  • contestn. 竞赛,比赛 vt. 竞赛,争取 vi. 奋斗
  • capacityn. 能力,容量,容积; 资格,职位 adj. (达到最
  • dominancen. 支配(控制,统治,权威,优势)
  • genen. 基因
  • agendan. 议事日程
  • benefitn. 利益,津贴,保险金,义卖,义演 vt. 有益于,得
  • slightlyadv. 些微地,苗条地
  • sensitivityn. 敏感,多愁善感,感受性
  • isolatedadj. 分离的,孤立的
  • performv. 执行,运转,举行,表演