With Valentines done and dusted, we thought we’d give the romance topic a little bit of a side-step and focus on those we truly love — our dogs. What is it about them that brings out our softer side? There could be very good reasons why we think more of our dog than other humans. So why do I love my dog more than I love you?
The Canine Connection
Apart from the beginning of your human relationship, when was the last time you really looked into your partner’s eyes? You know what we mean… that heart-melting shared connection that says so much without saying a thing? Can you remember any time recently? If yes, then congratulations, you are still madly in love. If not, then you are the same as most couples. Day-to-day living overtakes the simplicity of the ‘I love you love me’ state.
However, I bet you can remember looking at your dog, eye-to-eye. I bet it was as recent as last night, or even this morning, right before you placed his breakfast bowl on the floor.
Gazing into each others eyes is important, for both humans and dogs. When you look into your partner’s eyes, oxytocin, the pleasure hormone, is released in our brain. Oxytocin is fundamental in the bonding process. The same happens when you look at your dog and he looks at you. Scientists call it the ‘oxytocin-gaze positive loop’. It’s very likely that this gaze bonding occurred as humans began domesticating dogs. It evolved as the dogs’ way of ensuring good treatment, shelter, and food. The same with our human partners: “I’ll look after you if you will take care of my needs.”
The Unconditional Love Factor
Research has shown that dogs definitely feel emotions. Stanley Coren, Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, has written many books on the topic of dog behavior and has identified key emotions such as pleasure, anger, fear, etc. He says that the unconditional factor in a dog’s reactions is because the dog never asks, ‘why?’ It acts on its senses alone. Humans are always looking for reasons why. Dogs never do.
People like to believe that dogs think like we do, but that is unlikely. Their behavior is purely based on their reactions to physical external and internal stimulus. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped us projecting all kinds of thoughts onto our beloved pooch. And why not?
Why I Love My Dog More Than I Love You
My dog is happy with regular feeding, walks, playtime, a comfy bed, and a cuddle. She doesn’t have any other expectations. She doesn’t:
- Want me to binge-watch sport or sci-fi
- Expect cordon bleu cooking
- Want me to be nice to her mother
- Mind when I cry all over her
- Care if I eat all the ice-cream
- Expect me to do her laundry
- Attend boring corporate events
- Get upset if I forget her birthday
- Tell me what time to go to bed
- Care if I spend all day in my pajamas
- Mind if I spend all night on the internet.
My dog forgives me for:
- My morning grumpiness
- My bad moods
- Not talking
- Talking too much
- Not taking her out for a walk because the weather was truly awful
- Being sick
- Embarrassing her
- My garlic breath
- Falling asleep during the movie
- Taking her to the vet and the groomer
- Using her as an excuse to leave early
- Petting another dog
My dog’s pleasures in life are simple and uncomplicated. There’s no need for me to jump through hoops to make her happy. My dog loves:
- To greet me when I come home
- Riding in the car for its own sake
- The smallest treat
- Walking in the woods as much as I do
- Snuggling on the couch
- Chasing a stick or ball
- Chewing a bone for hours
- Me stroking her gorgeous, floppy ears
- Meeting people/other dogs
- Splashing in the stream
- A trip to the beach
Some Love Their Dog More Than Their Kids
It’s true. Some women have freely admitted that they care more for their children than their pooch. It comes down to the process of independence that happens in humans. It’s normal for our sons to resist a cuddle as they grow. It’s normal for our daughters to keep secrets from us. It’s perfectly reasonable that, as they progress through puberty, our children want to spend more time with their friends than their parents.
That never happens with a dog because, when you commit to owning one, you also commit to taking care of them, from puppyhood to old age. Your children are supposed to grow away from you; your dog never does.
The Time Factor
There’s another reason why we lavish so much attention on our dogs. And that’s because we know their time with us is limited. The average dog’s life span is around 12 years. That’s not very long. It’s as if we are on borrowed time from the day they come into our lives. So we feel we need to pack as much love into those years that we would into a human lifespan. Every moment is precious. Every cuddle becomes more than ‘just a cuddle’. Every day that passes is one day fewer to spend with them.
Why The Loss of a Dog Cuts So Deep
Occasionally people feel guilty because they feel such deep loss and sadness when their dog passes away. Often they report that their emotions were much deeper and intense than when a loved one died. This is normal and natural. When a loved person passes over, we have to hold it together. We have to present a certain face to the world. It’s not the same with a dog. All our emotions, even long-suppressed and forgotten ones, tend to well up at this time. It’s almost as if the death of a pet is an opportunity to release and express them. The final gift from a beloved companion.