Remember that romantic kiss scene in Lady and the Tramp? You know the one…where they are eating a big plate of spaghetti and unknowingly slurping away at the same noodle, until their snouts meet in a smooch. Then Tramp noses the last meatball across the plate to Lady.
Aww. So adorable, right? Not to kill the cuteness factor, but have you ever wondered whether dogs can really fall head-over-paws in love like that?
Doggy love is a hard topic to find solid research on, maybe because it’s hard to qualify the emotion separate from simple affection. A lot of scientists seem to just flat out not believe in it.
Anthropologist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Social Lives of Dogs, believes that dogs can fall in love. In her book, she tells the story of Sundog and Bean, two dogs that met each other by chance and only had the pleasure of each other’s company for a brief period of time. Bean’s owner was a builder and they were off as soon as the job was finished.
Sundog would still faithfully wait to hear the sound of the vehicle Bean’s owner drove, but to no avail. He stopped eating and slept more often. Even bringing in another female dog didn’t interest him. As for Bean, her owner believed she was yearning for Sundog, even to the extent that she would run away, looking for him.
Two stray dogs living on the streets of Terre Haute, Indiana met and “fell in love,” or so the story goes. Life took an abrupt turn, however, when the two became separated. But one of the dogs wasn’t going to let anything stop him from being reunited with his best four legged friend.
Four and a half year old Ben, a mixed breed, and one year old Jade, a German Shepherd mix, were well known strays that called the streets of Terre Haute home. How they met is anyone’s guess, but over time an incredible bond grew between them. The dogs were looked after by locals in the community, but the pair remained skittish of humans. When Jade became pregnant, the Terre Haute Humane Society (THHS) decided it was time to rescue both dogs.
Since they were comfortable with each other, the shelter kenneled them together until Jade gave birth to six healthy puppies. It was decided that they would be better in a foster home environment until the pups were weaned, and were moved to the home of Kali Skinner, one of the THHS adoption counselors. According to Skinner, “Jade was timid, but a very caring mother.” When the pups were old enough, they were put up for adoption and all quickly found forever homes.
Ben was overjoyed to see Jade when she returned to the shelter, and life was good until a young couple stopped in looking for a dog to adopt. Courtney and Jason Lawler fell in love with Ben, but they didn’t want two dogs. The couple’s three year old son, Peyton, and one dog would be all they could handle – or so they thought. Ben was led away from the shelter and his best friend, and Jade was left alone in the kennel. This might have been the end to this sad story of two friends saying goodbye, but Ben had other ideas and wasn’t about to be separated from his love.
I just wanted to let all my friends out there know that, so far, my on-line dating adventure has not scored for me. I did have an offer to appear on The Bachelor TV show though, and wanted to share my experience. For those who don’t mind sitting in the hair and makeup room at 5:00 a.m., it might be just right for you. As I’ve previously mentioned, hygiene is very important to me and I expect good grooming in others but even more so in myself. Would you believe that they wanted to powder my snout and rough up my ridge to give me what they considered a more fashionable punk style?
There were six lovely lady dogs on stage from which I was to choose. They didn’t give us much time to converse, so I had to decide based on grooming, breeding and which one gave more rise to my hackles. Ultimately, I flipped a coin to decide if it would be head or tail. The producers were somewhat perturbed when I bounded out of script and gave the lady I selected a CANIDAE dog treat instead of the usual corny, thorny rose. She very graciously and not so genteelly jumped up and grabbed for it immediately. Who knows, maybe this time I would get lucky! We made arrangements to meet and have dinner the following evening at a very fine establishment.
Since the place was somewhat formal, I arrived dressed in a top hat and, of course, my tail(s). The barking lot was full so I had to use the valet for my Range Rover but I wanted to get there early to have an opportunity to discuss whether red or white “whine” would go best with our CANIDAE and Chateaubriand. The sommelier patted me on the head and said he would take care of everything.
A few moments later, Poochilla Presley walked into the restaurant and all heads turned as her lovely nostrils flared seeking me out. There she was wearing a beautiful fur coat. Relax now…her fur was a fake. Yes, I said Presley, a distant member of the litter that produced the singer of my favorite song “You Ain’t Nothing But a Hounddog.” As we sat gazing longingly into each other’s eyes, they started to play “Puppy Love” and she suggested we dance. I had to beg off though, explaining that I was sorry but I had four left feet.
Parents of human children rarely admit to others that they have a favorite. In my opinion, it’s probably not because they don’t feel a deeper bond with one of their kids. Every human being is a unique individual. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, to feel different things for different people.
One might say there are as many “shades of love” as there are stars in the night sky. So it’s a perfectly natural, human thing to have a favorite child, but most parents won’t admit it because the backlash can be brutal. Recently, one dad blogger received the internet equivalent of being burned at the stake after he confessed to having a favorite child. Society says we’re not supposed to play favorites with our kids. And that goes for our pets, too.
The reality is that some kids and pets are closer to our hearts than others. We may not understand why, but we know it’s true. It is what it is. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t create feelings of guilt. We think we should be able to love them all exactly the same, and we feel bad because we don’t. We can’t change what we feel, though, no matter how much we might want to.
I admit that I feel guilty for having stronger feelings for one of my cats than the other two. I positively adore Mickey and Rocky and would be a hot mess if anything happened to either one of them, but my spirit would be shattered if I lost my sweet Annabelle. I don’t know how (or even if) I could ever get over that loss, because this little cat has touched my heart in a way that I didn’t even know was possible, until one day … there it was. Annabelle is my heart cat. There will never be a cat that I love as much or more than Annabelle. As sure as I know my own name, I know this to be true.
As it turns out, the pet most likely to be shedding fur in the lap of luxury may not fit very well on a human lap at all. A recent survey done by the Spectrem Group shows that millionaires overwhelmingly pick dogs as their pet of choice: 58% own dogs, while only 37% are cat owners.
That’s a big difference in pet ownership from the rest of the country. Humane Society statistics show that 39 percent of U.S. households own dogs, while 33 percent own cats. But those households actually own more cats total than dogs: 8.2 million more cats, to be exact. This is because feline households are more likely to have two cats, while canine households are more likely to have only one dog.
So why do millionaires prefer dogs over cats? Are they missing out on something the rest of the country gets about cats?
Looking for Love and Loyalty
One of the theories floating around is that millionaires might prefer the unconditional love and loyalty dogs give them. A love that is unattached to their ginormous bank balance. That is something you’ll certainly get in spades from most dogs.
But here’s a secret most cat owners could tell these millionaires: cats love deeply and faithfully too. Now I don’t know if it takes longer for a cat to become deeply attached to its human, since I have always been a very hands-on pet owner. I do know, from having many cats in my youth, that kitties can love just as fiercely as dogs. Maybe it does come down to having the time to play and bond.
One of the things I find most interesting about human beings is our uniqueness. We each have a distinct set of things we like, and things we don’t like. No matter how many humans you compared side by side, you’d never find two whose preferences matched. It’s the same with our pets. While some people think animals are a less complicated species than humans, in terms of their preferences each pet is unlike any other. However, without the ability to speak our language, pets generally have a harder time making those preferences known. They have to rely on body language and their own “animal speak” to get their point across. They also need an owner who is tuned in and takes the time to discover what floats their boat.
Understanding what brings your pet joy and then doing what you can to provide that for them is a wonderful way to deepen your bond. We humans appreciate it when others make a point of knowing what we love and what we don’t, so why should it be any different for our pets? It’s really not, but because of the language barrier we typically don’t learn all of our pet’s likes and dislikes as quickly as we do with humans. It can take many months, sometimes even years, of observation and trial-and-error to figure out what makes them tick. The reward – a beautiful, close-knit relationship – is well worth it, though.
Discovering what your pet loves is important, but what is also crucial is making sure that others know these things, too. When I wrote Have You Made Arrangements for Your Pet, I neglected to mention this, but I should have. It’s an essential arrangement for every family with pets but especially those who are single. I was reminded of this while reading Gwen Cooper’s novel, Love Saves the Day. The cat protagonist lived with a single woman who passed away. Even though the cat’s new family was the woman’s daughter, she was thrust into a home where they knew nothing about what she loved and what she didn’t. Many pets are surrendered to shelters without this critical information as well.
Change is hard enough for any pet. Imagine suddenly being in unfamiliar surroundings with strangers, unable to tell them that the food they offered wasn’t appealing to your palate, or that you wanted a lighter touch of the brush when they groomed you, or that what you really wanted someone to do, more than anything, was scratch your belly. It would be frustrating, to say the least. A pet’s quality of life would surely be diminished if they weren’t being provided with what they love most.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.