The first, mirrors were probably pools of water or pieces of polished stone. Later, the ancient Egyptians created mirrors from polished copper and the Chinese, from polished bronze. By the 16th century, Venice became renowned for its mirror production.
As mirrors evolved, so has the need for humans to check their images. However, only a few animal species have done the same. These include monkeys, dolphins, whales, elephants, birds and, often, dogs.
When dogs see themselves in a mirror, they don’t identify the image as themselves. Instead, they see what they think is another dog and try to decide if it’s a friend or foe.
When Tess hopped up on her owner’s bed, she looked into the mirror and was surprised to see another collie looking back at her. She moved her head up and down, and barked. The other dog seemed to bark back. What confused her even more was to see her human’s reflected to the side. Tilting her head from side to side, she tried to determine: who was her owner and who wasn’t.
Our little spaniel, Leia, loves to relax on the window ledge and see what is going on outdoors. The other day, she looked away from the window and saw herself in the mirror. The barking began. The dog in the mirror didn’t seem to want to play. The barking volume and intensity increased. This was Leia’s territory! Her barking didn’t stop until the mirror was covered by a towel. Even then, Leia eyed the towel warily as if to say, “I know there’s a dog hiding behind it.”
Penelope could care less about mirrors. The cocker spaniel staring back at her never passed her sniff test, so she doesn’t bark. Actually, Penelope seldom barks at all, except at her dog cookie jar on the counter. And the only thing she reflects upon is when a dog cookie will appear in her bowl.