A new survey shows that 81 percent of us view our pets as part of the family. And many of us now carry a photo of our dog in our wallet – instead of a kid – that we show to other people! So, that got us thinking: Are dogs better than kids? Consider these facts from the book The Genius of Dogs, by Duke University dog expert, Dr. Brian Hare:

  • Unlike babies, dogs are masters at reading our hand gestures. For example, if you throw a stick, and your dog can’t find it, you can generally point in the right direction. Most dogs understand the meaning of your point, and know where to go look for the stick. Dr. Hare says dogs have that instinct almost from birth. But it takes most babies at least nine months before they even start paying attention to our gestures – never-mind understand them!
  • Dogs tend to be more loyal than kids. In a classic study, psychologists put a mother and child in a playroom, and then watched what happened when mom left the room for a moment. In most cases, kids stopped playing and exploring, or they started crying. Then, when mom returned, some kids ran to greet her – others didn’t seem too bothered. Dr. Hare says dogs tend to do the same thing when their owners leave the room - the difference is that dogs will actually stand by the door, waiting for their owner to return. Then, they’ll almost always greet their owners with lots of jumping, licking and tail wagging.
  • Dogs have a vocabulary. Even though they can’t talk to us, research shows that dogs understand the meaning of over 1,000 different words we say to them.

In other words, dogs actually listen to us, they don’t talk back, and they never ask us to buy them clothes, a car, or a college education. So, maybe dogs really are better than kids! What do you think?