I remember once, when I was around nine or ten years old, being told that dogs can only see in black and white. We were in the park, the ‘wreck’, or ‘welly’ as we called it, and we were playing football when someone (I forget who), made the pronouncement.
‘How do they know?’ I asked, feeling rather puzzled. And us kids, using kid thinking, concluded between us that they must have cut a dog open, climbed inside and looked through the dogs eyes.
Then we carried on playing football.
But that assertion troubled me, I wasn’t happy with that answer and I carried that with me for quite some time after. Firstly, cutting a dog open isn’t very nice. It’s definitely unkind. Secondly, was the dog dead first? If so, would you still be able to look through their dead eyes? Because if you could, perhaps it looked black and white because the dog was dead, like the power had been turned off. So you would have had to look through the dogs eyes whilst it was still alive, but how could you cut it open and keep it alive?
And what troubled me most of all was that you would be looking through human eyes that already see in colour. A dog doesn’t look through human eyes when it sees, it looks only through dog eyes. And it doesn’t have a human brain to process what it sees, it just has a dog brain. So even if you could cut a dog open, and somehow keep it alive whilst you climbed inside its head, you would then have to look inside and see what it sees without somehow using your human eyes or your human brain …
In other words you would have to be an unopened, alive dog to really know whether a dog sees in black and white or not, and us humans could never really know, and so I decided it was all bullshit.
Of course there wasn’t Google in 1975, but it turns out I was right after all, even if my reasoning was a little … unscientific:
It’s untrue that dogs can only see in black and white