In his article, psychology professor Frank T. McAndrew describes the sad experience of him and his wife when they recently lost their dog, Murphy. The author says that for most dog owners losing their pet can be more painful than losing a human relative. For pet parents, their furred companion is more than just a dog.
Research confirms that losing a dog for many people is comparable to losing a close human relative. However, the grief in losing a pet dog can be harder because there are no social rituals that pet parents can perform to deal with their anguish. This may not be understood by non-pet owners who do not comprehend the intensity of the bond between owners and their loved dogs.
Dogs have been living with human owners for over 10,000 years. They’ve been trained specifically to be friends and companions to humans. Dogs have evolved from grey wolves to socially skilled pets that interact with their parents in almost the same manner as humans.
In fact, relationships with pet dogs can be even better than human relationships because our four-legged companions provide uncritical and unconditional positive feedback. This is because dogs have been bred across generations to socialize with people. Their brains respond strongly to praise and love from their pet parents.
Dogs can learn to understand the emotional states of humans from their facial expressions. Research indicates that dogs can comprehend human motives and try to assist their owners. They even avoid persons who don’t have a good relationship with their owners.
The author ends the article stating that despite the pain of losing Murphy, he and his wife are planning to get another pet dog in the future.
Author: Frank T. McAndrew
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