Dogs and Human Emotions

Being a fairly (ok very would be more appropriate) emotional person myself, I have always been fascinated by the response my pups have to my own emotions.

I also try to observe how these interactions work with other 2leggers and their 4legged friends. While by no means a scientific process, it is fascinating. At least to me.

Humans have such a range of emotions and some dogs seem to be oblivious to these displays, though I suspect their reaction is just one that I can not observe. Other pups though seem to be affected greatly by human emotion.

Case in point my Little Man, a poodle I had from three months until he died last year at 16. When I felt sad he would never leave my side. When I cried he would lick me, where ever he could find skin. He would not stop licking until I stopped crying and was calm, unless I made him. He didn’t seem to be affected by other emotions as much, but he could not stand it if I was upset.

Anthropomorphizing? I’m sure, but how do you speak of emotions in animals without anthropomorphizing? Emotion is expressed in human words, terms coined to describe the human observation of the concept so in my opinion there is no way to compare reactions in animals without speaking of it in human terms.

Does this mean that Little Man felt sorrow when I felt sorrow? I am not prepared to take it that far, but what I do believe is that he was affected in some way on a dog brain level by my sorrow, and felt it was his “job” to comfort me.

And while I don’t know if I would say he did so because he felt sorrow, I also know he did not exhibit any signs of stress as we know to observe them in our 4legged friends. When he had performed his self appointed job and comforted me to the level he felt appropriate he would become his normal placid self and go on with his day, so to speak.

(Most of his days involved laying where ever he could to be close to me, he was a lazy little bugger!)


What I know with certainty is that He did comfort me and I was emotionally enmeshed, if you want to use another human term, with him. Not even one day goes by that I do not still miss him. Not one.

Now for comparison purposes take Meeka. She is as solid and stable girl as I ever knew. In a comment a while back one of my readers called her “unflappable”. I absolutely love that word to describe her. She seems to notice if I am upset, but she does not have the drive to comfort me. She can continue what ever she is doing with out the need to investigate me and my emotion.

So does she “not care” about me? Not at all, she shows eager excitement when I come home, willingness to please, and desire to come and go with me. Signs I feel show her attachment to me. But she is not affected by my upset the same as LIttle Man was, or as Maizey is.

"Unflappable? Yup that's me!"

Since Maizey, as usual, is an interesting case all on her own check back with us soon to compare her reaction to human emotions.

Until then what about your pups? Do they seem to be more the Little Man type who are affected by emotions, or the unflappable meeka type who don’t seem to notice as much? And not just with sorrow, but what about any of the range of human emotions?

In a future post I want to compare my 4legged friends reaction to joy and happiness, or excitement. So if you have a post, or a story about any of these go ahead and leave it, you know how I love to be inspired by anecdotal evidence!

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Sick Puppies Don’t Work For Treats

Sick puppies don’t work for treats, and sick puppies don’t have too much fun!

We have not done too much of anything the last three days, except run for the back door and outside every half hour that is. Maizey has a sick belly. A very sick belly. So it has been sleeping, in between the back door running, for her.

I had a poodle, Little Man, for 16 years. He got bit through his nose and top palette when he was a few weeks old consequently he snorted when he breathed. I listened to him snort and snore from the time he was three months old until he died last year. I listened to him breath for more than half my life. I would wake up and listen to him in the night and I would know he was okay from the rhythm of his breath. After he died I spent nights listening for his breath. I couldn’t sleep w/ out his sounds.

Maizey is a silent sleeper, I still listen for her. She is a sound sleeper, I should know I have been holding her for two days while she sleeps. And she settles down good back into her silent sleeping after she wakes me up in the night to make the mad dash outside. I, however, don’t settle right back down. I listen for her. The same way I hear Meeka get up after about an hour in her crate and come sleep next to my bed. The same way I hear her make the move to the living room chair (how such a big girl curls up so small I’ll never know:)). I hear them because they are mine. I hear them and it doesn’t seem like it bothers my sleep.

Is there a four legged lesson?

I guess its a heavy one, but I think its that you aren’t bothered by what you love most. Because it’s yours. . .
. . .so you love them, even when they stick out their tongue at you and give you the evil eye.:))
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