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Old 07-21-2008, 09:33 AM   #1
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Do Dogs Feel Love?

I picked this up from a Purina email that I received. For those of you who are not pet owners, you might find this insightful as to how we are so attached to our furry buddies.

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Do Dogs Feel Love?


We feel tremendous love for our dogs, and our dogs sure seem to love us. But is a dog really capable of emotions? Or are we just projecting our feelings onto our dogs?

Scientists avoid the subject because part of what sets humans apart from the animals is our ability to experience feelings. To say that animals actually have feelings, in the same way we do, would change everything – perhaps disrupt our entire position and standing in the animal kingdom.

However, any dog owner knows that dogs love completely and have a greater capacity for love than most people. If one were to describe the main characteristics of a dog, they would have to be:
1. strong affection
2. warm attachment
3. unselfish loyalty and benevolent concern for others

Wait a minute – those are the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definitions of love. Probably why the author of Dogs Never Lie About Love, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson writes, “dogs are love.” So there isn’t a question of whether dogs love, the mystery is how they have such an enormous capacity for it. Dogs who are neglected or abused still show love for their human and wag their tails in hope of a little affection.

Dogs taken from abusive situations hold no grudges toward the human race. A half an ounce of kindness from a new person results in an abundance of affection from the formerly mistreated dog. Humans rarely have the capacity to so completely forgive and love under those circumstances.

Probably the biggest reason the dog has become man’s best friend is because we know that when it comes to love, a dog can always outdo us. The highest form of love, agape love, which is completely unconditional, is something that people often have to work at or grow into. Agape love seems to come naturally between parent and child, but it’s more difficult between husband and wife, and harder still between friends. To love someone regardless of what wrongs they have done you is very difficult for humans.

A dog, however, is born with an endless capacity for agape love, and doesn’t even have to work at it. You can be a complete grouch, ignore your dog, and refuse him your love. When you decide you’re ready to be sociable again, your dog doesn’t pay you back by ignoring you too. He’s just happy you’re there. More amazing still, is that the love that dogs and owners feel for each other lasts a lifetime. This is the ideal love humans strive for, but often fail at.

As Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson so beautifully writes in Dogs Never Lie About Love, “Learning to know somebody intimately is often the beginnings of dislike, sometimes even of contempt. Among humans, love often does not survive a growing acquaintance, but in a dog, love seems to grow with acquaintance, to get stronger, deeper. Even when fully acquainted with all our weaknesses, our treachery, our unkindness, the dog seems to love strongly – and this love is returned by most dog-loving humans. We, too, seem to love our dogs the more we get to know them. The bond grows between us and our dogs.”

This is why we need dogs. They do something for us that rarely a human companion can do. No matter how much you mess up your life, or how much wrong you do, no matter how many mistakes you make or how often you make them, regardless of your looks, income or social standing, your dog never judges you. He always thinks you are wonderful and loves you with all his heart.
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Old 07-21-2008, 09:37 AM   #2
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When I read something like that, it makes me wonder if I'm good enough for my dogs.
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Old 07-21-2008, 09:41 AM   #3
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Yet another question.

Do dogs smile? ( perhaps laugh ) I think so.
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Old 07-21-2008, 11:34 AM   #4
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Jack, what a good read this hot summer day. Thanks for sending it along to all of us on the Forum. Our two dogs were so happy to greet us when we pulled in the drive yesterday after our week's vacation. What a heartwarmer it is when they wiggle and woof and give love nibbles and their tails are wagging too fast for the eye to keep up with! ~G
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Old 07-21-2008, 12:16 PM   #5
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Someone more famous than me I can't remeber said our society can be measured by how we treat our animals. I think it may have been that bald guy in a diaper, Gumby.
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Old 07-21-2008, 12:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cameront120 View Post
When I read something like that, it makes me wonder if I'm good enough for my dogs.
Yes, but, the point is you don't have to be.

But it is worth it to try.
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Old 07-21-2008, 01:12 PM   #7
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Another animal that is close to humans, like dogs, are donkeys. Yep, you heard me right, donkeys. They are very similar to dogs in they way they like social contact with humans.

Yes, I have one, so I know this first hand. They quite the pets.
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Old 07-21-2008, 02:47 PM   #8
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Pick, I know people who have donkeys, and they've said the same thing!

One thing I love about our eskimos is that they give spontaneous displays of affection. Alki will be just hanging out, when she suddenly decides to jump up on my chest, plant a paw on each shoulder, and try to lick me to death, smiling and wagging like mad the whole time! She does it to Dave too, in fact she loves it if I suggest she go give 'Daddy a kiss'. I've never had a dog act like that before, but eskimos are known for it, in fact they call it 'the eskimo hug'. Now I can rationalize away a happy greeting when you've been away, or wagging tails for food or treats, but I don't know what to say about 'eskimo hugs', except that must be love!
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Old 07-21-2008, 03:10 PM   #9
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Stef, my Chocolate Labrador Kai does something to let me know that there is love. While I'm walking my two, he will look up at me and walk in tight right beside my leg. He keeps looking at me, as if to say "pet me!". Of course I pet him and he cuddles in tighter. That's love! That or I'm a sucker and he has me well trained.
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Old 07-21-2008, 03:37 PM   #10
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cute piece jack and heartwarming....

but the basic premise is flawed...

Quote:
Originally Posted by purinaquote
...Scientists avoid the subject because... perhaps disrupt our entire position and standing in the animal kingdom...
there is a PILE of science AND research on this issue and the pile is growing every day!

in fact, there is so much it is overwhelming the scooper.

including the newer genetic study of how/why the domestic pooch is different than its ancestor/siblings the wolf and dingo...

"the dingo took your baaaaaby"

it might be more correct to suggest it is the god squad (the nofunfaction only) that is reluctant...

about researching love, feelings and a SOUL outside of mankind....

i don't wanna start a new scopes monkey trial...

really good scopes trial history...

or the wiki...

but, c the pic below...

and as a famous marx said...

"outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

2air'
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Old 07-21-2008, 04:18 PM   #11
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Dog for sure love!!! I am going thru a hard time at the moment and our/my yellow lab Chiara feels when it is getting too much for me and then always comes to me to show how much she cares... Can't see people cry, it is really cute, because she tries get on your arm to give you a big wet kiss... If that ain't love I am not sure what a dogs love is...

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Old 07-21-2008, 05:20 PM   #12
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I'm sure that dogs do and also lions too.

Christian the Lion
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Old 07-21-2008, 05:30 PM   #13
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Here is a picture of my donkey, named Simon.
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Old 07-21-2008, 05:35 PM   #14
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Awww, Pick, Simon is a cutie! And bonus points for the AS in the background!

You guys are right about donkeys, although I am really glad that their affection towards humans doesn't involve leaping into laps and licking faces! Our donk, Tom Terrific, is VERY social and loves being around people. He is a great watchdonk and lets us know when someone comes on the property. And the first thing he will do is run past you and stop abruptly so you can scratch his rump.

Here are some pics of him:

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We have been very lucky with loving dogs as well. Nilla really likes her humans!

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Great topic, Jack!

Susan
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