“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” – Josh Billings, humourist and lecturer. But is that really true?
Well, of course, most owners are convinced that their pets love them. And pets are known to show a great deal of affection, particularly dogs and cats. Owners form powerful bonds with their pets, and vice versa, but is this love?
Firstly, science doesn’t help us out much when looking at pets and love, except for research completed with dogs. Here, studies have shown that a dog is very similar to a two-year-old child and their brains act similarly.
We produce chemical components are when we feel emotions. For love and affection, we make the hormone oxytocin. Dogs also manufacture this hormone when seeing and interacting with their family members.
When we find examples of “love”, it’s hard to decide what emotion the pets are really feeling, but we do see remarkable feats of loyalty. Should we see loyalty as love, however?
Let’s look at a few stories of pets and their owners through the ages, and perhaps you can decide.
Now this story is very well known. John Gray was a night watchman in Edinburgh at the end of the 19th century. He took his Skye terrier, Bobby, on his rounds with him, and for eight years, they were a familiar sight walking the streets at night.
When his master died, Bobby refused to leave his grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard, no matter the weather. Bobby’s fame spread, and visitors would come to see him and, in particular, to watch him take his only stroll of the day, at 1pm, to receive a meal.
A very modern tale is about the dog Ruswarp, belonging to Graham Nuttall. Sadly, Ruswarp’s owner died while out walking on the mountains of Wales in 1990. It was 11 weeks before searchers found his body, and, amazingly, the loyal hound had stayed with his owner all that time. The poor dog, though alive, was weak and starving and unfortunately did not live much longer after being found except to attend his owner’s funeral.
Cats Are Loyal Too
Cats can be very loyal, no matter what some folks may think. Most tales of loyalty for cats are stories of great distances covered to return home or find their owners.
In 2013, Holly the cat was lost on holiday with her owners while 190 miles away from her home. Unable to find Holly, the owners left, but amazingly 62 days later, they received a call from a vet to say someone had handed their cat in. It was skinny and very weak, but, astonishingly, just ONE MILE away! Holly had managed to walk 189 miles. And perhaps most surprising was that Holly had always been an indoor cat. That’s an excellent example of determination and loyalty, or maybe determination and love.
To Sum Up
Dogs and cats will alert their owners to danger. Other pets have done amazing things, too, in times of fires, hurricanes, floods, etc. No matter what we call it, pets show unusual behaviour based on their bonds with their owners and family.
I will call it love.
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