There was some stuff on the webnews today about the way that dogs lower stress. This, it has to be conceded, is not always the case. Miss Dog has I think felt a bit short changed because the Professor has not been very well. He was due to see the Chinese doctor today, and when I opened the boot to get out some screenwash, she leaped into it; later she bullied her way into the car and since there wasn’t time to evict her we took her along going ‘Woo woo woo’ and driving us potty. We didn’t take her for a lovely walk on the beach which would, we felt, have simply been to encourage her in general badness. But the story did prompt a genuine and moderately serious thought. We do tend to envisage a family as parents + children, or at best, three generations, grandparents + parents + children. The Roman definition of a familia was parents + children + slaves. But looking even further back than that, one of the peculiar characteristics of our particular branch of the primate lineage is that they were able to create a family, or mutual benefit association, which connected up people with grazing animals (sheep, goats, pigs, cattle), predators (dogs, cats), birds, and even insects (bees). This was first worked out by wiser heads than mine; I am not claiming responsibility for the idea. But it does strike me that a corollary of this is that the human being who exists only in an environment of other human beings is cut off from an interspecies association which is pretty hard-wired in us. And no wonder that various categories of vunerable people can commnicate with dogs.