Many animal experts believe that a primitive communication system unites virtually all mammals. Beyond that, a special connection appears to exist between dogs and whales. Check out this footage, for example, of a dog interacting with a killer whale. The orca, which could have easily grabbed the dog for dinner, appears to be displaying submissive, playful behaviors, such as exposing its underside to the dog.
I was reminded of the dog-whale bond recently after speaking with Carrie Newell, who runs Whale Research EcoExcursions in Depoe Bay, Oregon. Newell often brings her dog, Kida, on her boat.
(Credit for all images: Carrie Newell)
"Kida is very attuned to the sea life," Newell said, "especially the whales. And various times I have had a whale travel along the length of my boat while Kida runs on the tube following it."
She added that "other researchers have told me that people with dogs have better whale encounters possibly because of some connection between the two. I have also observed that if I am excited and clap or call to them, then the whales feed off this excitement and approach closer."
Newell even thinks the whales she has studied so closely over the decades "have a sense of humor."
"Many, many times they pop up a few feet from my boat and I scream…and I am sure they get a chuckle out of it," she explained, adding that she also believes "they like teasing" Kida.
Photographer Charles S. Hall, Jr., who has collaborated with Newell, told me he has seen such behavior too.
"I have been on several whale
watching excursions with Carrie and know that Kida always accompanies
her," Hall said. "On one occasion a gray whale rose up in front of us while we were
cruising along, causing us to come to an abrupt stop, Kida got so
excited she was hanging half way out the boat! I reached out and
grabbed her tail just as she was about to jump."
Kida is doing fine and has been on many excursions, always looking forward to the next adventure and to seeing the Oregon whales.
Please visit this page to view more images of Newell and the whales she studies.