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Pop Culture

Optical illusion that looks like a person with two dogs has people totally tripping

It takes a while to see it, but there are not two dogs in the photo.

photo that appears to be a man standing in a snowy field with two dogs

Where is the third dog in this photo?

Optical illusions are wild. The way our brains perceive what our eyes see can be way off base, even when we're sure about what we're seeing.

Plenty of famous optical illusions have been created purposefully, from the Ames window that appears to be moving back and forth when it's actually rotating 360 degrees to the spiral image that makes Van Gogh's "Starry Night" look like it's moving.

But sometimes optical illusions happen by accident. Those ones are even more fun because we know they aren't a result of someone trying to trick our brains. Our brains do the tricking all by themselves.


The popular Massimo account on X shared a photo that appears to be a person and two dogs in the snow. The more you look at it, the more you see just that—two dogs and someone who is presumably their owner.

But there are not two dogs in this picture:

There are three dogs in this picture. Can you see the third?

Full confession time: I didn't see it at first. Not even when someone explained that the "human" is actually a dog. My brain couldn't see anything but a person with two legs, dressed all in black, with a furry hat and some kind of furry stole or jacket. My brain definitely did not see a black poodle, which is what the person actually is.

Are you looking at the photo and trying to see it, totally frustrated?

The big hint is that the poodle is looking toward the camera. The "hat" on the "person" is the poodle's poofy tail, and the "scarf/stole" is the poodle's head.

Once you see it, it fairly clear, but for many of us, our brains did not process it until it was explicitly drawn out.

As one person explained, the black fur hides the contours and shadows, so all our brains take in is the outline, which looks very much like a person facing away from us.

People's reactions to the optical illusion were hilarious.

One person wrote, "10 years later: I still see two dogs and a man."

Another person wrote, "I agree with ChatGPT :)" and shared a screenshot of the infamous AI chatbot describing the photo as having a person in the foreground. Even when asked, "Could the 'person' be another dog?" ChatGPT said it's possible, but not likely. Ha.

One reason we love optical illusions is that they remind us just how very human we are. Unlike a machine that takes in and spits out data, our brains perceive and interpret what our senses bring in—a quality that has helped us through our evolution. But the way our brains piece things together isn't perfect. Even ChatGPT's response is merely a reflection of our human imperfections at perception being mirrored back at us.

Sure is fun to play with how our brains work, though.

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