I have heard several well-meaning people say that animals are different from humans in that they don’t experience emotions. I don’t dispute that humans are created different from animals since we were created in the image of God, but I do doubt that this means we are the only creatures who experience emotions. I don’t know that all animals experience emotions, but I do believe some do, especially my favorite animals: horses & dogs. Somebody who doesn’t think dogs experience emotions must either be a person who has never owned a dog, or a person who places the dog in the backyard and never takes the time to actually get to know the dog.
I’ve grown up with dogs, and I am both amazed by them and grateful for them. It is no wonder why they are known as man’s best friend. In so many ways, they can be better friends than humans. A good dog wants to please you. He may not always understand what you want, but if he does, he will usually try to do it, a lot better than humans. They listen and comfort simply by their their presence. Many of our problems can’t be fixed anyway; we just need somebody to listen and care when our world is crashing down. Not only will a dog listen and care; he won’t judge you, spread gossip about you, or bite your head off for your shortcomings.
If you don’t think dogs experience emotions, how do explain the little happy dance that takes place when you come home? Not even my wife or children are anywhere near as happy to see me when I come home. My dog is happy to see EVERY time I open the door. I may have stepped on him, given him the wrong dog food, yelled at him for leaving his hair everywhere, and kicked him off the furniture; but my dog will be right there at the door just as happy to see as he always is. Not only is he happy to see me, but he comes bearing gifts. He doesn’t own much, just a few toys; but as soon as I walk through the door and he greets me, and immediately starts searching for a toy to bring me. Humans don’t do that.
If they don’t experience emotions, what is with the excitement that takes place when you take them somewhere. They are not choosey either. My dog has his favorites, he loves walks in cemeteries or on the trails; however, he is just as content to go to the store and sit in the car. When I take him on the trails he runs and bounces with the excitement and joy of a three year old at Christmas. It is difficult to find such gratitude expressed by humans. Doesn’t experience emotions, REALLY?
Dogs not only experience joy, but they also feel disappointment too. They won’t hold it against you long, because they are so forgiving by nature, but just watch as a dog’s excitement increase as soon as him sees you are going somewhere, and watch the face drop and ears flop down when he realizes you can’t take him. Another example is when you come in from a restaurant. He knows where you’ve been; he can smell it. But after a brief sniff around he looks at you with that look in his eye. He’s still glad to see you, but he just shoots that look as if to say, “You couldn’t bring me anything?”
You won’t convince me dogs don’t experience emotions. They not only have their own, but they intuitively pick up on our emotions even better than our own family. I came home today not feeling well. My dog greets me with his usual joy at first, but he can tell, I’m down. Immediately, he calms and goes into supportive and caring mode. Wow! If we could only teach this to humans. He doesn’t say anything, he just climbs up as if to say, “I love you, and I’m here for you.” What more could anybody ask for?
My dog intuitively knows when I’m ticked too. No words are exchanged; he just knows. Once again he offers the greatest response possible: he just goes to his bed and leaves me alone. Oh, how I wish humans could get this one down. It would solve so many problems.Dogs experience fear too. Just take my dog around a garden hose, a vacuum leaner, or the Vet and you will see fear in no uncertain terms. But even fearful, he will try to comply with your wishes, at least as much as he can get his body to cooperate anyway.
Dogs have their flaws too which is why some people never really get to see the value in dogs. I could do with out him sniffing every plant. I really don’t like his hair everywhere or his incessant scratching or his licking his butt. I mean who does that? I don’t like him pestering guest, begging for food, getting on the furniture, or laying around right in the way of everything, but if I were to make a pros and cons list about my dog, his pros would be way above the cons.
I didn’t ask for my dog. The in-laws just kind of brought him one day. It was also never intended that he would be my dog, but there’s little doubt, he’s mine. He loves the whole family; he just loves me a little bit more. He loves me more than I love him. At least that’s how he makes me feel. He’s there when it seems nobody else wants to be. He doesn’t bite me when I’m trying to help. He always forgives even after I have hurt him. I haven’t always treated dogs as they deserve, but I am amazed at the value they give our lives. I am so grateful for my fury friend. He has brought me much encouragement over the years.