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Portsmouth dog an internet star for having human-like features

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent

March 19. 2018 11:22AM

Yogi was compared to famous actors last week. His owner said she never noticed his human characteristics until recently. (COURTESY)



PORTSMOUTH — A city dog became an internet sensation last week when people began commenting online that he has a human face.

Yogi, a 1-year-old Shih Tzu-poodle mix, caught the attention of some media companies when his picture ended up on Reddit.

Chantal Desjardins, 27, is Yogi’s owner. She was interviewed by People magazine and “Inside Edition.”

Desjardins told People she didn’t realize how human Yogi looked until her friends pointed it out after she posted a video to Instagram and Facebook.

Desjardins told People and “Inside Edition” she likes the online comparison to Nicolas Cage dressed up as an Ewok the most.

So how can you make your dog look more human?

Veterinarian Allen Tucker said Friday at Daniel Webster Animal Hospital in Bedford that some breeds of dogs can be groomed to look more like humans.

“A lot of it depends on how you trim their hair and face,” Tucker said.

Tucker said in Yogi’s case, the fact that he doesn’t have fur around his eyes exposes them. He also said the angle Yogi’s viral picture is taken at makes his head look bigger.

“It’s a darn cute picture, that’s for sure,” the longtime vet said.

Whether Desjardins grooms Yogi to look more human is not known. Multiple attempts to reach her at home, work and online were not successful Thursday and Friday.

Researchers have studied why people think certain animals look more like humans.

The phenomenon is based on a theory called baby schema. Big eyes and round cheeks are characteristics humans associate with babies. Humans also project these qualities onto pets.

Baby schema, or Kindchenschema, was first proposed by ethologist Konrad Lorenz in 2009 to explain the basis of caregiving for human infants.

In “Pet Face: Mechanisms Underlying Human-Animal Relationships” published in 2016, scientists said dogs and cats exhibit lifelong morphological and behavioral infantile characteristics as a by-product of the domestication process.

“It has been hypothesized that both behavioral and physical infantile features present in companion animals might form the basis of our attraction to these animals and may bear some part of the responsibility for our motivational drive to pet-keeping and pet-caretaking,” the review said citing a 1997 study.

Anthropomorphism is another term used for the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to an animal. According to Wikipedia, it is considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology.


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