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What Do Dogs Dream About?

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One of the great pleasures of having a canine companion is watching them fall into an exhausted pile of fur after a long day of doing absolutely nothing. It’s at this point that many pet owners wonder: What do dogs dream about, if they dream at all?

First, researchers believe that yes, dogs do dream. There’s no actual testimony, but we know from a 2001 MIT study with rats that the animals can enter REM sleep and exhibit the same brain activity as they did while they were navigating a maze earlier. Other studies using electroencephalogram (EEG) devices have been able to observe similar activity in dog brains while slumbering. Like humans, dogs have a sleep stage where their breathing slows and their eye movements become rapid—all indicators that dreaming could occur.

There’s also the superficial evidence: Dogs often bark or twitch while asleep in ways that imply they’re dreaming of chasing an elusive target. (Or leaf.)

That’s because dogs, like us, probably dream about the events of the day—in their case, running, jumping, or playing. Dreams can even be breed-specific, as in the case of Pointers that go “on point” as though they were spotting game. Smaller dogs also tend to dream more than larger dogs, and older dogs more than midlife dogs.

Details of those dreams remain elusive. Apart from physical clues, it’s hard to know exactly what goes through an animal’s mind. Some gorillas who have been taught sign language have communicated their dreams to their handlers—sometimes about people they’ve seen recently. It’s also possible dogs dream about their owners frequently, since the canine/human bond is so strong.

If you want to observe dreaming in your own dog, experts recommend you wait until about 20 minutes after they’ve dozed off. Their muscles may begin to twitch and their eyes might start to flutter, both likely signs the dog is entering REM and starting to dream. It’s also important not to disturb them during this stage of sleep, since it can be startling to them. If you leave them be, maybe they’ll finally have an opportunity to catch whatever they’ve been chasing.

So what do dogs dream about? A lot of the time, probably the thing that’s most often on their mind: you.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Why You Should Never Take Your Shoes Off On an Airplane
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What should be worn during takeoff?

Tony Luna:

If you are a frequent flyer, you may often notice that some passengers like to kick off their shoes the moment they've settled down into their seats.

As an ex-flight attendant, I'm here to tell you that it is a dangerous thing to do. Why?

Besides stinking up the whole cabin, footwear is essential during an airplane emergency, even though it is not part of the flight safety information.

During an emergency, all sorts of debris and unpleasant ground surfaces will block your way toward the exit, as well as outside the aircraft. If your feet aren't properly covered, you'll have a hard time making your way to safety.

Imagine destroying your bare feet as you run down the aisle covered with broken glass, fires, and metal shards. Kind of like John McClane in Die Hard, but worse. Ouch!

Bruce Willis stars in 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

A mere couple of seconds delay during an emergency evacuation can be a matter of life and death, especially in an enclosed environment. Not to mention the entire aircraft will likely be engulfed in panic and chaos.

So, the next time you go on a plane trip, please keep your shoes on during takeoff, even if it is uncomfortable.

You can slip on a pair of bathroom slippers if you really need to let your toes breathe. They're pretty useless in a real emergency evacuation, but at least they're better than going barefoot.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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