… or do they just do what they do because we give them food and shelter?
The intellectual side of me says that dogs, just like wolves, are beasts. Yes, they were domesticated to serve us in the past so they started living with us. God/Allah/Creator/Universe (or whatever you believe in) created the wolf with a purpose and we chose them as companions. It’s not the nature’s design and the dog is just a wild beast waiting to attack us at our most vulnerable moment.
… and of course, I think to myself, I can’t believe this BS that my left brain has come up with.
As an owner of dogs myself, I’d like to think that my dogs love me as I love them. I go out of my way to find foods, toys, and medications that would benefit them because healthy dog is happy dog owner.
But like most dog owners, I’ve had moments where I wonder if dogs truly feel love or if they’re just happy that their walking refridgerator is always giving them good. This is cynical and probably not a healthy emotion to carry around me but I do truly wonder out of scientific curiosity.
Of course, no one really knows. Not even this Yahoo Q&A. But I did find a very striking answer:
In Tokyo, Japan at the Shibuya subway station there is a statue of an Akita. The statue is of a dog that followed his master to the train everyday and meed him there every night after work. One day the man died at work and the dog returned every evening waiting for his master until the dog finally died of old age. I think this qualifies as love.
Similarly, there is a Korean “story” (may be a fable, maybe not) of an old man and his dog. This old man was apparently a drunkard and got drunk frequently. On a hot day he got so drunk that he passed out on a field near a river. (Ok I am not certain of details so don’t ask me how…) A fire broke out but the man was so passed out that he didn’t hear his dog barking to warn him of this imminent danger. The fire was coming closer but there was nothing to dog could do to wake him up or move him. So the dog jumped into the river, wet himself, and rolled around the fire to put it out. The man eventually woke up, only to find out that the dog died by fire.
Ok, now I know some cynics out there are thinking “PUHLEASE, dogs don’t know how to put out fires” … or “PSSSH, dogs would save themselves and run the hell away.” Maybe that’s true, maybe that’s not. But dogs can do some amazing stuff that most people would not believe, like this dog that pees while doing the handstand.
So do dogs love their owners? Who knows. Even if any “expert” comes up with ‘yes’, that’s debatable:
According to Fred Metzger, a guest lecturer in animal sciences at Penn State and a State College veterinarian, “Dogs probably don’t feel love in the typical way humans do. Dogs make investments in human beings because it works for them. They stand something to gain from putting so-called emotions out there. The more ‘cute factor’ they give us, the more we feel like they love us. This makes it more likely that we will give them more attention, food treats, outdoor access — all based on how much of a show they put on for us.” Metzger theorized that dogs “love” us as long as we continue to reward their tricks and antics with treats and attention.
But who cares? If you love your dog and you think your dog loves you, then that’s love.