DM Blog

Your Dog Really Does Love You

Jamie Ducharme, writing for Time:

Plenty of research has shown that dogs respond to signs of their owner’s distress, such as crying, but it hasn’t been clear to what extent pups will try to make their owners feel better. A paper published Tuesday in the journal Learning & Behavior, however, suggests that dogs will actually take an action trying to alleviate that distress, says Julia Meyers-Manor, an assistant professor of psychology at Ripon College in Wisconsin and a co-author of the study. The results suggest that your pooch may empathize with and care for you even more than you know.

[…] dogs who feel attached to their owners want to help.

[…] That tells us that no one should be concerned if their dog doesn’t open the door if they’re crying, says co-author Emily Sanford, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Johns Hopkins University. It might be that they love you too much.

Plus, Sanford adds, it stands to reason that dogs would show a range of personality traits, just as humans do.

There are some people who just don’t have as strong empathy toward other people, Sanford says. So we are not surprised at all to find that there’s a range in other species besides our own.

I remember that I used to pretend to cry sometimes, because it was amusing to see just how quick Lorenzo would find me, jump up to wherever I was and try to console me and alleviate my pain. With time, he got smarter about it and could tell when I was just messing with him, but whenever he sensed that I genuinely needed him, he never failed to be there for me. Never.

From the time Lorenzo was just weeks old, he always preferred humans over dogs. When we got Cachita, she made us realize not only how smart Lorenzo actually was, but also how exceptionally empathetic and loving he was too. Whenever Michelle or I were feeling down and in need of affection, Lorenzo always knew. It’s funny, Lorenzo never liked to be touched much and only liked receiving affection in small quantities, but he was always giving and giving.

When writing about Lorenzo passing recently, I mentioned that, my wife Michelle and I used to say that we have two dogs, plus our son Lorenzo. It’s no surprise that Lorenzo and I got very attached to each other because we had very compatible personalities. When you have three dogs living together, it immediately becomes apparent just how unique each dog is and how much individual personality they can have.

Cachita has a distinct personality and her own share of traits very different from Lorenzo, as does Javier. They’re not as judgemental as Lorenzo was, but nowhere near as empathetic either. While I do love all three of them, I won’t deny for a second that Lorenzo was by far my favourite. There was something very special about Lorenzo.

And speaking of personality traits, Javier made us realize years ago that dogs too can have a sense of humour! He’s both funny and cute — and he knows it — and even at ten years old, he still behaves like a month-old puppy, because he loves being the baby.

Just like no two people are the same, dogs too have unique personalities and can experience just as wide a gamut of emotions, especially love. So yes, your dog really does love you!