Pavlov’s Dog

Photo courtesy of Molly Lindsey


Who Is Pavlov’s Dog?

For starters, do you know about Pavlov?  Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849 – 1936) was a Russian born physiologist known for his work in classical conditioning. His work has greatly influenced our understanding of human behavior and learning processes, and he continues to influence the formation of modern behavior therapy.

His contributions have influenced a broad spectrum of fields, from psychology and physiology, to medicine and philosophy, but in popular culture he is well known for his “conditioned reflex” experiments with dogs. Various stimuli would be presented as an antecedent to feeding time, and the dogs would then become conditioned to salivate upon the stimuli presented before food was actually presented.

Hence, the image (above) of my Australian Shepherd, Molly, licking her chops. All we have to do is mention “treat, snack, breakfast, lunch, or supper,” and she begins licking her lips. The other day it made me wonder who Pavlov’s dog was, but then I discovered, he had many dogs! Duh!

Oh well . . . Pavlov and Molly conspired to make me think about who Pavlov’s dog was, which inspired a poem. I hope you enjoy “Pavlov’s Dog.”

Photo courtesy of Molly Lindsey

Pavlov’s Dog

You know I would follow you off a cliff, 
Ivan, and I can see it in your eyes: you
have feelings for me. That's not to say
that I don't think you're on to something big
with the bell and psychic salivation show.
People will take the bait,
and it's about time man's best friend
gets credit for teaching humans 
how to understand their odd behavior.  
To wit, I'm concerned about yours,
and let's not get started 
with your notion of "systematic desensitization."  
That dog won't hunt. I have no fear,
but your sensitivity is in question:  
We don't run and play like we used to,
I sit in this cage, day after day, 
waiting for the bell, which will ring
ten minutes before each meal. 
You used to call me for supper, 
which was thrilling. Really,
Ivan, a cold, heartless bell? 
Things will not change around here,
from my perspective:
I'll bring in the morning paper,
act excited when you come home,
protect you and your property,
and love you unconditionally.
I'm just sayin'.   


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