Love and Dogs

What is this thing called love?

Yes, we are told in that in spring a young man’s fancy turns to love, but what about all of us adults that no matter if it is spring, fall or whatever the season, we continually fall in love with the big brown eyes found in puppies and dogs.

What is it that draws us to these four footed creatures that sometimes take over our lives?

Why are we, as intelligent individuals drawn into the circle of complete devotion by a pair of brown eyes and some fur?

This is a question that has been puzzling many people for many years. What is it about a dog that gets to us?

People from all walks of life, rich or poor, beggar or thief will risk their lives to save their dogs. Many have gone into burning buildings to save their dog. During Hurricane Katrina many people sacrificed their own lives to stay with their dog during the storm and its aftermath.

What is this magic hold?

Some say it is caused by an over supply of the hormone “Oxytocin” in some people. Oxytocin is the hormone of love and attachment that brings out the nurturing feelings in all of us.

Women have a larger supply than men do, but there are many men that express this hormone when it comes to family and their dogs.

It seems that social animals are blessed with this hormone while the more solitary animals have less.

Humans and dogs are part of that social animal group and that can possibly explain the reason for our affection for each other.

Dogs are very social animals. In bygone days they hunted, lived and raised their families in packs. They would fight together to protect their dens from predators. A dog would not leave its family if danger prevailed; it would fight to death to be the protector. Many other species would run away in order to protect themselves and leave the family to die at the hands of the predator.

Most dogs are by nature devoted to each other and to other species of their choosing. You have read stories of dogs befriending horses, cats and many other animals. A herding dog will give its life for its flock. A human can beat a dog almost to death and the dog will still give of its love.

Dogs are like us humans in many ways. Their facial expressions can mimic ours, they seem to know our feelings and they would wear their hearts on their sleeve, if they were wearing a shirt.

Some psychologists say that dogs have learned through the ages how to manipulate the emotions of humans. That with a whine, a sad look and a lick they can have us eating out of their hands.

Probably true, at least in my case, but I don’t believe that to be the whole truth or the complete story.

Dogs from the very beginning of time have earned their keep. They have hunted with man, they have protected man and they have even managed to do some of the work of man. All this with unconditional love and devotion.

Then there are those that say that the words “unconditional love” cannot be true all the time. I am certain that that is probably so. There must be many times in a dog’s life that it would love to tell its human to “shut up and go away.” We are probably lucky our dogs cannot talk. When you think of the secrets they know, they know our vulnerabilities (they are very good at sensing our moods) and sometimes they can read our minds. We should be thankful for their support and their closed mouths.

The glory of the dog is its ability to be social, to accept people at face value and to allow us to love them with all our hearts.

Dogs in general do not ask much of us, of course, it is our responsibility to provide food, shelter and care for them. We took away their ability to hunt and live in packs as in the bygone days.

So we should take the responsibility for their care.

But, why are we so devoted? I think it is because we were designed to be loving and nurturing and dogs were designed to be cuddly, fuzzy and loving in return.

In my opinion, we are the lucky ones; cause dogs allow us to love them.