Another night on the news, I saw a story about 2 dogs on a busy nyc highway that stopped traffic during rush hour. 1 dog had been hit by a car. Police officers stopped traffic and were attempting to get to the injured dog to get it off the road and into a vet. The uninjured dog was guarding and protecting the injured dog. The dog, it looked like a German Shepherd mix ,was barking and chasing away the officers, but it never tried to attack or hurt law enforcement. Eventually, the wounded dog was picked up and driven to a vet clinic and the dog protecting her ran home. It turns out the two dogs lived right by the street and the wounded dog is the mother of the other dog. This made me wonder about dogs and their capacity for love, loyalty, caring and other human emotions.
When you have been away from home for any period of time, and your dog is mad happy to see you upon your return, is it because he missed you or because he knows there’s someone to feed him? Some specialists believe the dogs instinct for survival is what motivates him because he see you as his provider. I can tell you from experience this isn’t the case. We occasionally go away for 3 day weekends. We’ve got a neighbor who loves our 3 Dobermans. She will come over periodically while we’re gone to feed the dogs and let them play with them. All their needs are being provided but, the 3 dogs still go nuts with joy once we get home.
While its clear that dogs don’t have the identical complex emotions that people experience, they have learned to reciprocate the affection we give them. Dogs become very attached to their people and many dogs would do anything to protect their human family. We know by a dogs behavior which they can experience fear and happiness. They have their way of demonstrating those emotions. My Doberman Thunder happens to be afraid of thunder and Raccoon removal. I know this because he puts his ears and tail down and goes to his corner comes to me for comfort. My female Doberman, Autumn, gets scared when the smoke alarm goes off. They instinctively know to come to us for comfort and reassurance.
We have all seen our dogs show their happiness by the way their ears perk up and their tails wag. Their mouths are slightly open and relaxed and their body language is apparent. They can be a great comfort to us when we’re upset or sad.
While it could be true that we attribute more intricate emotion and human traits to our dogs than they’re capable of, we all know how much our dogs enrich our lives, and we all know we’d miss the love and devotion they show us every day.