The other night on the news, I saw a story about 2 dogs on a busy New York City highway that stopped traffic during rush hour. 1 dog had been hit by a car. Animal Control stopped traffic and were trying to get to the injured dog to get it off the street and to a vet. The uninjured dog was guarding and protecting the wounded dog. The dog, it looked like a German Shepherd mix ,was barking and chasing the officers away, but it never attempted to attack or hurt law enforcement. It turns out the two dogs lived right by the street and the wounded dog is the mother of the other dog.
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 is 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 is not the case. We sometimes go away for 3 day weekends. We have a neighbor who enjoys our 3 Dobermans. She’ll come over periodically while we are gone to feed the dogs and let them out and play with them. All their needs are being provided however, the 3 puppies still go nuts with joy when we get home.
While its clear that dogs do not 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 lots of dogs could do anything to protect their human family. We know by a dogs behaviour that they can experience fear and happiness. They have their way of demonstrating those emotions. My Doberman Thunder happens to be terrified of thunder. I know this because he puts his ears and tail and goes to his corner or comes to me for comfort. My female Doberman, Autumn, gets scared when the smoke alarm goes off. She comes to press herself against me and she shakes. They instinctively know to come to us for peace and comfort.
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. Dogs are also very sensitive to our moods and feelings. They can be a great comfort to us when we’re upset or sad.
While it may be true that we attribute more complex emotion and human traits to our dogs than they’re capable of, we all know how much our dogs enrich our lives, and we know we’d miss the dedication and love that they show us daily.