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Tag: relationship

Why’d ya have to kick that dog, Marge?

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In the final episode of its 28th season, “The Simpsons” was making some pretty wry and thought-provoking observations on the ever evolving human-dog relationship.

But then Marge had to go and kick a dog, ruining — or at least tarnishing — the whole episode.

“Dogtown” started off with Homer swerving his car to avoid hitting the Simpson’s family dog, Santa’s Little Helper, and running into a human instead — a down on his luck character named Gil who was, like the dog, seeking to forage a meal from garbage cans in an alleyway.

The injured Gil files a lawsuit against Homer — one that he seems sure to win until Homer’s lawyer notices and seizes on the jury’s love for dogs.

He mounts a defense emphasizing Homer’s desire not to hurt the dog, highlighting all the wonderful things dogs do for us, citing historical examples and showing cute YouTube videos that lead jury members to utter extended “awwwwwwwws.”

Gil’s lawyer tries to show that a dog’s life shouldn’t be valued as highly as a human’s, pointing out some less than desirable canine habits, but the jury finds all of them cute as well.

They issue a quick not guilty verdict for Homer, and he goes on to be revered as a local hero for sparing the dog’s life.

bartNoting how the case has captured the public’s attention, Mayor Quimby decides he needs dog-loving voters in his camp and begins passing laws that turn Springfield into a dog paradise

Springfield becomes not just dog-friendly, but dog-serving, dog-pandering — a place where many human establishments once serving humans now service dogs almost exclusively, a place where dogs don’t have to answer to anyone about anything.

As farce, it worked. The outrageous scenarios it portrayed of dogs being coddled, pampered, spoiled and placed on pedestals rang at least a tiny bit true.

Other than a dejected Gil, who has realized the town values dogs more than someone like him, the only naysayer is local veterinarian Dr. Budgie, who predicts that dogs, without humans to be subservient to, are going turn on people once they discover that humans are no longer in charge.

When they do, things get chaotic. Dogs take over, taking advantage of new opportunities, but also growing more in touch with their wild roots, stalking and preying and wandering the streets in roaming packs.

When Santa’s Little Helper departs the Simpson’s home to live with his own kind, Bart and Lisa set off to find him, but end up getting treed by a pack of snarling dogs, led by the alpha dog, a Chihuahua.

marge

Marge comes to the rescue, facing down the pack of dogs, and particularly their leader. When that dog growls at her, Marge growls right back, ordering them all to sit and stay.

That, plot-wise, could and should have been enough to show she has reasserted her dominance, but the writers took it a step too far. Marge is shown kicking the small dog, who disappears into the horizon like punted football. After that she’s completely in control, dogs resume their place, and — though the esteem in which I once held Marge is forever altered — life returns to normal in Springfield.

It just wasn’t in keeping with Marge’s character. Sure, she’s a no-nonsense sort and will lay down the law when she has to, but violence has never seemed part of her repertoire. She has always favored brains over brute force.

It was not a good message. Even in a cartoon. Even in an adult cartoon known for pushing the envelope. And the worse part was, it was not at all necessary to the story, just a gratuitous dog kick that should have been edited out.

We’re guessing that scene wouldn’t have survived in Sam Simon’s day.

Simon, director and co-creator of the series, died in 2015, but his philanthropy and love for dogs lives on through the Sam Simon Foundation, which, among other causes, works to save animals from harmful and abusive situations.

To see that other part of his legacy, namely “The Simpsons,” resorting to depicting a dog being kicked — and kicked by Marge rather than a doofus like Homer — strikes me as shameful.

Surely, the writer could have come up with another three-second gag to replace that, and not leave viewers with the impression — even in the context of comedy — that violence and brute force are needed to train, discipline or keep dogs “in their place.”

That’s my verdict, anyway, and as for the writer we’d suggest a good strong correction — like a firm jerk on the leash.

10 things I hate about Facebook

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Here’s my list.

It is not of 10 bands I saw in concert and one I didn’t. (How quickly that became tiresome.) It’s not my favorite books of all time, or my favorite movies of all time, or my favorite live giraffe births of all time.

It’s a list of the 10 kinds of Facebook posts that bore me, clutter my Facebook feed, and keep me from locating anything interesting I might otherwise find – the kind that, in their repetition, are so annoying that I hereby proclaim they should find a home somewhere else.

Perhaps little auxiliary Facebook-type sites, custom created for such niches, or a system in which, through the miracles of the Internet, all the flotsam, dregs, nauseatingly reappearing games and quizzes and fads could end up, thus making the page I get when I sign on to Facebook something where I’m interested in 25 percent of what might be on there, instead of only about 3.2 percent.

I seem to remember hitting a 60 to 80 percent rate of interest in the content of what we once called newspapers, making them therefore worth my time. Facebook comes nowhere close to that.

Just to sketch out a rough idea of how I’d like things to be, I’d offer these 10 new Facebook type sites — some or all of which might actually exist (I did not check first, for that would lead me to more of what I HATE). The idea, though, is that all the posts that, no offense, fail to interest me sufficiently, annoy me or outrage me, could be diverted to these auxiliary sites, instead of the real Facebook, or at least that version they feed me.

1. Highspeedrecipes.com: Super speeded-up videos showing the preparation of recipes that we use to spend a half hour watching get made on TV, and which take two hours or more to actually make. Now they whir before us on Facebook with only 30 seconds passing from the first cracked egg to the final finished product. Instantly gratifying as they seem, they serve only to remind me of the 29:30 I once wasted on each and every cooking show.

hairdo2. Feedmecompliments.com: Where all the posts about your new profile pic, your new hairstyle, your fancy manicure, what you cooked, or what you planted end up – the purpose of which, admit it, is to get compliments on how beautiful you look or it looks. Soon it will be prom dresses. And by all means, go ahead and post those photos and be proud. But, Facebook, please disappear them off my feed.

3. Detailsofmyailment.com: The most intricate details — especially when they come from the pretty much complete stranger kind of Facebook “friend” — of the latest twist and turns your disease, ailment, condition, bruise, depression, phobia has taken. (Your dog’s ailment? Well, I might be interested in that.)

(Interlude: I should point out here that, in some cases, namely those cases of close friends or relatives, I actually do want to be kept up on how you, your dog, your ailment, are doing (though it’s not necessary to show me photos of gashes, stitches, bruises or surgery) As I’ll explain more later, my Facebook friends list consists of relatives, actual real life friends, cherished former co-workers and a few online friends I’ve grown (because Facebook isn’t all bad) to care for and/or become interested in, and lots of people that, no offense, I am less concerned about because, hey, I don’t really know you.)

frankss4. Anyoneknowagoodplumber.com: Again, if it’s a post from someone I know or more specifically someone who lives in the same town as me, I might be interested, or even helpful. Otherwise, if you live in Alma, Kansas, or some such place, I can be of no assistance in your quest for a plumber, or anything else, and your words are cluttering my Facebook. It’s not your fault; it’s Facebook’s.

trump5. Trumpbeingmildlystupid.com: Sorry, but these have become so commonplace, so recurring, so more than once a day, that I no longer have time for them and would prefer my Facebook page be cleared and kept open for only the most blatant, outrageous and mind-blowing, of Donald J. Trump’s egregious acts and remarks — and preferably those based on accounts provided from legitimate media outlets. Quite possibly, even those in time will become too numerous as well, or maybe they have already.

franksplumbing6. Pinpointmeonamap.com: Unless you are somewhere in need of my immediate assistance, I can see no purpose in receiving a large map pinpointing your current location. If it’s a party and you’re inviting me, or dinner and you’re paying for it, OK. Otherwise, I do not require that knowledge and I definitely do not require a detailed map. But just in case you do, here’s where Frank’s Plumbing is located in Alma, Kansas.

(Interlude: I know what many of you are saying by now. I just need to take better control of the existing parameters available to control the content of my Facebook page, rid myself of those unreal friends, fine tune my profile and do a better job of letting Facebook know my needs and desires. Problem is, I feel they know them too well already, otherwise I wouldn’t be getting those sponsored messages about gout and where to buy whatever product I last Googled. Also tinkering with parameters makes me nervous – and almost as crazy as encountering useless (to me) Facebook posts.

In addition to not properly controlling my Facebook, I did not properly set it up. I created my personal site first – primarily for the purpose of leading to people to posts on my website, ohmidog! Then I added a separate Facebook page for ohmidog!, but I still link to a post every day on my personal Facebook page as well.

Thus my “friends” are a predominantly dog lovers and advocates I don’t really know (though they are generally speaking a good class of people). I still use that personal page to draw attention and link to new ohmidog! posts. Most people don’t go to the link, but prefer to comment based on seeing the picture and headline alone, or ask a question about it, rather than clicking on that blue link that will give them all the answers and details, and countless hours of reading pleasure.

So I use Facebook for two purposes — to stay in touch with friends and to procure the readers necessary to satisfy my ego. (Any profile pic of me isn’t likely to get compliments, so I post what I’ve written, which still sometimes does). In a way, what I’m doing is no different than that person who, proud of their new hairdo, or what they made for dinner, posts pictures of it on Facebook.

I accept almost all friend requests from strangers, as long as their timeline looks like they have an interest in dogs, for that could mean new readers. I reject those from strangers who look suspicious, like say one with a name like Boris “The Hacker” Ivanov, or one who is a scantily clad female who lacks a timeline, has three or four friends and is clearly a temptress lurking on Facebook for evil purposes.

Oh wait, weren’t we doing a list?

marathon7. Myaccomplishment.com: Whether it’s that casserole fresh out of the oven, that marathon you just completed, that award you won or any other achievement of yourself or, often more important, your children, you want to the world to see it. And that’s OK, within reason. But too much of it, stated too smugly, and your venturing very close to item 8.

beach8. Envymylife.com: A friend going on a cool trip? That’s acceptable. Sure, I’d like to see a few photos. But if you’re constantly going cool places that I can’t go, if I don’t know you from Adam, if you’re living a joyous life of wealth, leisure, fun and adventure, I’m going to get a little pissed – 98 percent because I’m jealous, 2 percent because you are flaunting it too much. I do not need to see every single pastry you enjoyed at every single café you visited during your trip to Paris. Try a little moderation — if not in your life, at least in what you post about that total fulfillment you are achieving.

inspir9. Mywordsinacolorfulbox.com: Putting your words in a colorful box makes me no more likely to read them. I tend to do the opposite and skip them entirely. Those who go to the trouble of putting their words in a colorful box are likely so full of themselves as to leave me uninterested in any substance or knowledge they might be trying to impart. Plain old box-less words are fine. We would include in this category all those all purpose, one-size-fits-all inspirational phrases you’ve stolen from somewhere else, and, often along with them, a photo or depiction of a sunset or a meadow with wispy clouds. I know you mean well. But spare me, please.

friends-cast-tease-today-16021010. Sillygameslistsquizzes.com: What possible interest would I have in 10 concerts you saw, and one you didn’t? Nor could I possibly care what “Friends” character, or “Survivor” character, or “Golden Girl” character you most resemble. Take those quizzes if they make you happy. Broadcast the results to friends and strangers alike. I won’t call you mindless sheep. (I can assure you with near certainty, though, that Bea Arthur would never have taken part in such time-wasting frivolity. Rue McClanahan? Oh she definitely would have. Estelle Getty? I’m guessing, she would start them, but get cranky halfway through and give up. Betty White, I’m quite sure, would only take part in them rarely, and in moderation

Conclusion: That’s it. That’s all I ask. Just a few little drainage points through which much of the trite, self-aggrandizing, look-at-me, time-waster posts could exit the stream that becomes my Facebook page.

I’m not asking you, personally, to refrain from anything. I’m just asking Facebook to fix it, or make it a little better, because I know Facebook cares about me (it has told me so) and I know it has all the answers — buried though they may be in the murky, often smothering, depths of its vast wasteland of content.

Ooda lalley, ooda lalley, golly what a day

We love dogs. We love depictions of interspecies harmony. And danged if we don’t love Roger Miller.

So even though its cast is made up of various members of the animal kingdom — not just the dogs we normally feature in our “Woof in Advertising” pieces — we’re pretty crazy about this recent ad for Android phones.

We especially like the tagline: “Be Together. Not the Same.”

wiaMany of the interspecies friends shown in the ad have been featured before here on ohmidog!, including Roscoe and Suryia, the coonhound and orangutan who appear at the beginning of the commercial.

The ad doesn’t make me want to buy an Android phone.

But it does make me happy.

How can such scenes of interspecies friendship not make you joyful, especially when you throw in the phrase “Ooda Lalley?

(According to Urban Dictionary, it’s a term popularized in the 1950s, meaning yay or yippee.)

Now all we have to do is figure out what “Do-Wacka-Do” means, and whether it’s possible that — with enough interspecies harmony — we CAN roller skate in a buffalo herd.

Who’s the fool: Why do we humans persist in our efforts to trick the dog?

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Most of us have probably tried a version of this at home — be it with the fake tennis ball toss, the hidden treat or the imitation door knock.

How easily, and how many times in a row, can we fool the dog?

For some reason — maybe to test their intelligence, more likely because of the puckish tendencies of our own species — we seem to like to prank our pets.

Even many of your more admirable dog owners aren’t above punking their pugs, confusing their corgis, tricking their terriers or discombobulating their dachshunds.

My dog Ace has fallen victim to most of them. I’ve rapped against the wall to make him think someone’s at the front door. I’ve pretended to throw sticks and balls and hidden them behind my back as he gives chase. (This may explain why he’s not great at fetch). And, in perhaps the cruelest torment of all, I’ve made him think I’m holding a treat in one of my hands, holding out two closed fists and letting him pick one, then the other, only to find both are empty.

With each, he quickly caught on to the fact he was being played, and, despite my attempts to continue teasing him, moved on to something more interesting than me — like a shrub, or a rock, or the couch.

Dogs, due to their trusting nature, can be pretty easily fooled the first time. But you’re not likely to fool them with the same trick more than once or twice, according to a new study, published in the journal Animal Cognition.

Thirty four dogs were involved in the study, conducted at Kyoto University in Japan. One at a time, they were taken to a room where a researcher pointed to where food was hidden in a container. All the dogs followed the cue and got the treat. The second time around, the researchers pointed to an empty container, and all the dogs followed the cue , only to be disappointed.

The third time around, when the researcher again pointed to a full container of food, hardly any of the dogs bought it.

When a new experimenter came in to try again, the dogs initially trusted him — at least until he duped them, too. (Thank you, dogs, for not judging our entire species based on the acts of one.)

The leader of the team that conducted the study, Akiko Takaoka, says its findings suggests dogs are pretty good at determining how reliable an individual human is.

“Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought. This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans” she told BBC. Dogs understand what it means when a human points at something. If a dog’s owner points in the direction of a ball, stick or food, the dog will run and explore the location the person is pointing to.

But Takaoka said she was surprised that the dogs “devalued the reliability of a human” so quickly.

I wonder if the results might have been different if dog owners — rather than strangers — were the ones trying to fool them. Would they, based on the bond they have with their owners, be a little more trusting, and follow the cues a few more times before giving up?

Maybe … assuming their owner hasn’t raised them with a steady diet of pranks.

Fun as they may be, they should probably be done in moderation, and not during puppyhood. And, when it comes to training, it’s probably best to avoid duping our dogs into doing what we want them to do — as in tricking him into a bath, or into the crate, or using the word “treat” to get him to come. Deception — with the possible exception of putting his pill in a shroud of cheese — shouldn’t be something we regularly practice to control our dog.

Dogs like things to be predictable, John Bradshaw of the University of Bristol notes in the BBC article, and not knowing what’s going to happen next can make them stressed, fearful or even aggressive.

“Dogs whose owners are inconsistent to them often have behavioral disorders,” he said.

Still, many of us (perhaps due to our own behavioral disorders) persist — even those who know fooling the dog runs counter to good training, and works against building a relationship of trust.

Why we’re that way might be equally worthy of a study. Why, long after the dog has lost interest and moved on to something else, do some of us humans continue to try and amuse ourselves by tricking them?

Maybe those people are scientists at heart, and want to test their dog’s cognitive abilities. Maybe they justify it by telling themselves — as I did when teasing my little brother — that it’s building character, or teaching our dog that life isn’t always fair. Maybe they’re trying to establish their dominance, or at least their feeling of mental superiority, or re-establish the fact they are in control. Maybe they have a tiny cruel streak.

More likely, they are just seeking a laugh, or feel the need to confirm how much their dogs trust them.

The occasional prank, I think, is OK, but pulling too many of them might be an indication we’re not worthy of that trust, leading it to erode, as maybe — based on the experiment in Japan — it is already.

Dogs are continuing to figure us humans out (no small task). They learn our schedules. They predict our actions. Apparently, they have also learned when, amid our trickery, to turn us off, in which case the joke just might be on us.

Another look at the “guilty look”

Remember Denver, the guilty, oh-so-guilty, looking yellow lab that was captured on video by her owner while she was being interrogated in the case of the missing cat treats?

We suggested — partly in jest — that she might be innocent, that appearances can be deceiving, not to mention misinterpreted, and that, just maybe, the cat did it.

Now — with the video having gone viral, with dog and owner having appeared on the ABC’s Good Morning America, with a line of “guilty dog” merchandise having been spawned — there’s more reason to believe that Denver might have been wrongly convicted. How guilty one looks and how guilty one is are two different things — especially when it comes to dogs.

Guilt, research shows, may be just another human emotion that dog owners anthropomorphically ascribe to dogs. 

And all those behaviors Denver exhibited — avoiding eye contact, lying down, rolling into a submissive position, dropping the tail, holding down the ears or head, raising a paw — are more likely triggered by the owner’s semi-scolding tones than any feelings of “remorse.”

This reminder/revelation comes from someone who knows, who did her master’s dissertation on this very topic, and who produces one of my new favorite blogs, Dog Spies.

Julie Hecht is a New York-based behavioral researcher who has worked with Patricia McConnell and Alexandra Horowitz. She wrote her dissertation at the University of Edinburg on  “Anthropomorphism and ‘guilty’ behavior in the dog,” and did her research with the Family Dog Project in Budapest, Hungary. She recently started Dog Spies, which focuses on the science behind dog behaviors and the dog-human relationship, and she divides her time between research, lecturing, blogging and working with individual pet owners.

As was my goal (plug alert) in my recently published book, “DOG, INC: The Uncanny Inside Story of Cloning Man’s Best Friend,” she attempts to take the boring out of science, thereby making it interesting and understandable. “Scientific journals should be titled, ‘Lots of great information within, a tad boring to read!’ Dog Spies translates that information and shares it with you,” reads the introduction to her blog.

Judging from her “guilty dog” blog entry — and you know its trustworthy, because it has footnotes — Denver’s appearance, with her owners, on the ABC morning show raised her hackles a bit.

“According to the dictionary, ‘news’ is ‘information about recent events or happenings.’ I did not see any news during that morning show. Instead, I saw a bunch of morning personalities throwing out assumptions and offering the audience pleasing banter and humorous judgments about dogs. They provide no real information or ‘news’ about what happened to the cat treats.”

Here Hecht has hit on one of my pet peeves — pun definitely not intended. Rather than shedding some light, doing some research, and furthering our understanding of canines, the ABC segment — like so much of what the media, blogs included, feed us about dogs — was the kind of cutesy, substance-free fluff that reinforces misinformation and misunderstanding.

Like most everyone else, the smiling morning show hosts concluded Denver must have eaten the cat treats. When shown the empty bag and asked, “Did you do this?” Denver displays squinting eyes, averts her head and makes a highly laughable presentation of her teeth.

Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

Or maybe not.

Hecht cites a 2008 research paper that says 74 percent of dog owners attribute guilt to dogs, and believe dogs know when they have done something owners disapprove of. But scientific research shows that it’s not knowledge of a misdeed, or remorse, that leads to the guilty look, but an owner’s scolding. (See the New York Times piece, “It’s an Owner’s Scolding That Makes a ‘Guilty’ Dog.”)

Or, see this — a video Hecht made that shows a dog named Gidget being falsely accused:

As Alexandra Horowitz, author of “Inside of a Dog,” once put it: “We’ve trained them that when they see us angry, they give us that guilty look. I’m not saying they don’t feel guilt … I can’t test that yet. But we generate the context that prompts them to produce this look.

Why then, in the guilty dog video gone viral, does Denver show these behaviors when the other, presumed innocent family dog, Masey, does not?

“Research finds that even post-transgression, not all dogs show the ‘guilty look’ in the presence of a non-scolding owner,” Hecht says. And, transgressions aside, it might be the simple fact that Denver is a more expressively submissive dog, according to Hecht, who says part two of her entry on the “guilty dog look” will be appearing soon on her blog.

Why do dogs show what appears to be a guilty look more so than do their progenitors, wolves?

“Dogs have, for the most part, incredibly malleable and expressive faces (much more so than, say, cats) and from this, we can often see the subtleties of their eyebrows going down or up or their wide forward-facing eyes, becoming wider. All of these things could impact how humans attribute mental states to dogs,” Hecht told me.

My theory is there’s more at play — though maybe I’m giving dogs more intellectual credit than they deserve. I think mastering the guilty look is another way dogs have evolved since their domestication, and to cope with their domestication — part of their ongoing adaption to pethood. By showing submission, some of them may have have figured out, they can keep the peace, and maybe even get a belly rub or a Milkbone.

To me, the even more interesting question, when it comes to “the guilty look,” is whether, even before the scolding comes, dogs can sense it’s about to. Before a word comes out of the owner’s mouth, before an angry stance is even taken, can dogs sense that some displeasure is churning within us?

I, without any research or footnotes to back me, believe so. My scientific explanation for this: It’s magic.

Dogs are figuring us out. Which, until recent years, is maybe more than they could say about us. We’ve always been more concerned with their brawn than their brain, more concerned with their beauty than their behavior. It’s man’s hand that has led to the vast diversity of shapes and sizes in dogs. And while breeders have begun to put a higher priority on temperament, it can still be argued that appearance is placed above all else.

Could it be, in their way — without the aid of microscopes, opposable thumbs or access to our pedigrees — dogs are looking more deeply into us than we are into them? Could it be, during their time in domestication, dogs, as a species, have amassed a wealth of knowledge on how to best get along with humans, and have become even better at doing so than humans?

I think there’s more at work than breeding and genetics and instinct when it comes to dog behavior. An ongoing and not fully understood evolution is at play in the dog-human relationship. And that is the reason — all those unanswered questions about behavior, coupled with those we wrongly assume we know the answers to —  why dog blogs of substance, like Hecht’s, are important.

At the same time, though, I rue the day when our understanding of dog behavior is complete — when we can explain every act of dog as stemming from some lingering instinct, or adaptation to their domestication. For then the magic will be gone.

I want all three — my science, my magic and my dog. Does that make me greedy?

Guilty.

Nova’s “Dogs Decoded” airs tonight

The amazing and still evolving relationship between dogs and humans is the subject of “Dogs Decoded,” a NOVA episode that airs tonight.

The program looks at how dogs — domesticated for longer than any other animal on the planet — have come to understand us in a way other animals cannot, how they can read our emotions, how that relationhip evolved and where it might lead.

“Dogs Decoded” investigates new discoveries in genetics that are illuminating the origin of dogs — with revealing implications for the evolution of human culture as well. It visits Siberia, where the mystery of dogs’ domestication is being repeated in foxes. A 50-year-old breeding program is creating an entirely new kind of creature, a tame fox with some surprising similarities to man’s best friend.

The episode reveals the science behind the bond between humans and their dogs, and it spurs new questions about what this could mean for our rela­tionships with other animal species.

Among the questions the episode explores are why dogs bark, when their predecessors, wolves, didn’t, and whether it’s a behavior that evolved so they could communicate with humans; why a hormone that humans release at birth to bond mother to baby is also released when humans interact with dogs, bonding us not just emotionally, but biologically; what makes dogs able to understand social cues, like pointing, that other animals cannot; and what clues dog DNA might hold to understanding the genetic causes of certain diseases.

“A comfort none of us can give him”

lloydJanice Lloyd, the voice of USA Today’s Paw Print Post, wrote a spectacularly moving piece yesterday about her brother’s golden retriever and the dog’s newfound bond with her aging father.

The dog, Lloyd writes, “has adopted my father since last Thursday, giving him a comfort he can find no place else right now.” At 93, she says, her father is showing signs of dementia, and since his wife fell and broke her hip on a recent vacation cruise, leading to a stay in a nursing home, he’s been staying with his son, Lloyd’s brother, in Delaware.

“My dad gets teary at night when he has to leave his bride in the home. He doesn’t understand why he can’t sleep with her. We explain that he can’t stay there. He thinks she seems OK and can go home. The conversation recurs nightly, often more than once.”

Sophie, the nine-year-old golden retriever, “seemed to sense immediately that Dad needed a care taker. She rose to the occasion. She curls up with him on the sofa and puts her head in his lap. My dad rubs her head and smiles at her. My brother says ‘she doesn’t even do that with me …’

“When it’s time for dad to go to bed, she goes downstairs with him and jumps up on the kingsize bed and stays the night,” Lloyd wrote. Her brother says when her father gets up early in the morning for a trip to the bathroom, he tells Sophie to wait for him in bed. When he comes back, he’ll say “Good girl, Sophie. I’m glad you stayed. Let’s go back to sleep. ”

A veteran of World War II, Lloyd’s father visits his wife in the nursing home every day, often falling asleep in a chair as he holds her hand.

Back at his son’s home, Sophie is the comforter.

“When I drove him to my brother’s from the nursing home Sunday night, Sophie ran up to the side of the car where Dad was sitting. She smiled at him. My brother says Goldens smile. Now I believe it. She greeted my Dad when he got out of the car. She never left his side while we watched a little TV before going to bed.”

Sophie, she says, “offers a comfort none of us can give him.”

(Photo by Janice Lloyd / USA Today)