Name that emotion … dogs have them, too
Joy. Sadness. Hope. Fear. Fairness. Compassion. Curiosity. Resentment. Jealousy. Anxiety. Embarassment. Remorse.
Despite those who will tell you dogs feel none of those — that they are solely motivated by hunger — evidence is mounting that dogs’ emotions run a gamut a lot like the gamut our’s run. (Damn gamut.)
Ten years ago, anyone arguing that dogs felt guilt or compassion would have been laughed out of the room — and accused of anthropomorphism once he was gone.
Today, as an article in the Denver Post points out, scientists are finally acknowledging what pet owners have suspected all along – that dogs have feelings too, a lot like our’s, probably as a result of all these years evolving under the same roof together.
“We’re not trying to elevate animals. We’re not trying to reduce humans. We’re not saying we’re better or worse or the same,” said animal behaviorist Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of the University of Colorado. “We’re saying we’re not alone in having a nuanced moral system.”
Bekoff, co-author of the newly released “Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals,” is convinced dogs animals possess empathy and compassion, the emotions upon which moral sense is built. “Dogs know they are dependent. They learn to read us,” Bekoff said. “Dogs develop this great sense of trust. We’re tightly linked, and there is something spiritual about that unity.”
These days, more scientists are following in Bekoff’s footsteps – Harvard University, for instance, recently opened a Canine Cognition Lab, where researchers seek insight into the psychology of both humans and dogs.
“The amount of skepticism has dramatically dropped,” Bekoff said.
You can find the full Denver Post article here.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, anthropomorphism, anxiety, behavior, canine cognition lab, compassion, dog, dogs, embarassment, emotions, empathy, evolution, evolving, fairness, fear, feel, feelings, harvard, hope, jealousy, joy, lives, marc bekoff, moral, pets, remorse, resentment, sadness, university of colorado