Should Your Dog Be Grateful ?

Well, that depends. On what your definition of grateful is. Feel free to tell me what you think your dog is grateful for, in the comment section. But that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about how many dog owners think their dog should behave a specific way and show a degree of gratefulness, because they have provided them with a wonderful home and a yard to play in. Some think their dog should not display any unacceptable behaviors, because of this. This would be similar to someone thinking their toddler should be happy, instead of crying in their bed, just because it’s a really, really nice bed.

This kind of thinking ( anthropomorphic )  is how some of us think when it comes to our dogs, as misplaced as it may be. And by the way the intelligence level of a dog at best, is that of  a one or two-year old child.

I’m reminded of this from a recent conversation I had with a nice guy about his dog. Sadly this is not the first time I’ve had a conversation like this with a dog owner, and unfortunately it certainly won’t be the last.

This is a classic case of us projecting our human emotions and rationalizations on a species of animal that derives it’s pleasures from digging holes, chasing squirrels, rolling in the stinkiest stuff it can find and eating it’s own shit. Dogs don’t think anything like us and to believe they have the capabilities and intelligence to understand us on our levels, is doing that dog and yourself, a great injustice. Hell, we can’t even understand each other and we expect our dogs to understand us ?

A dog can only think like a dog.

So just remember, either your going to get lucky with a dog that has very few problems or you’re going to have a dog, that acts like a dog. And you’re going to have to help them through their issues.

The Spirit Dog

© 2010 a.s.papszycki

6 Responses

  1. I don’t think Barkimedes feels gratitude for specific acts on my part. I do think he feels joy and love. He has a zest for life, for sure. I don’t think he knows he almost lost his life at the shelter before I claimed him. I feel gratitude every day that I have a chance to know him and be loved unconditionally by him.

  2. I think the unrequited love everyone says their dogs give is really a type of unrequited acceptance. Probably has a lot to do with the “not rehashing the past” thing, but they greet you with excitement no matter what you’ve done (to a certain extent).

    We should be lucky to have THEM in our lives. After all, a lot of people have dogs for themselves, not for the dog, necessarily.

    Great explanation on dog’s emotions, Al. Gonna hang on to that one.


  3. Hello Regina, Thank you.

    Roger is a doll and he always gets hugs and kisses. You have to see how good he’s gotten at catching treats.

  4. i think roger is grateful he is with you. and that makes me grateful for your willingness to accept him into your pack. please give him a hug & kiss for us. we do miss him terribly.

  5. Ralphie, you wanna splain this to ur mommy ?

    Hey Jenn,

    Dogs have all the same basic emotions as we do. The difference is, there emotions are an immediate response to an external stimulus such as a baby or a toddlers emotions. A baby will cry when she’s hungry, tired, soiled or bangs her head on that rock mobile you though was a great idea when you first hung it over her crib. When that offensive mobile is removed or she is fed, changed and gets some sleep, your baby will be happy and content again.

    What your baby will not do, is start crying latter on because she started thinking about what a stupid mommy she has. A rock mobile, what were you thinking ?

    Like a baby, your dog doesn’t rehash old emotions by thinking of things that previously happened, unlike we humans have a tendency to do.

  6. First of all, it never occurred to me to expect gratitude from my dogs. But your article got me thinking…if I was looking for gratitude I would see it in the way they greet me when I come home, when they give kisses, when they follow me around, when they play with me. Showing love is a kind of gratitude.
    But what I think is more important from your article is your focus on the anthropomorphic aspect of living with/loving dogs (or any pets). It’s so easy to assign human emotions, reactions, causes of behavior to them. I’m not sure why we do this, but I know we do this.
    Most often I would think it’s harmless, for example if I describe Ralphie as “smiling” at me. You had a recent article where you asked how do dogs show “jealousy”, we all knew what you meant. I guess, as you say, we do an injustice when we EXPECT certain behaviors based on this anthropomorphic point of view.
    But Al, which emotions would you say dogs HAVE? Wouldn’t love be one of them? Or is this simply the devotion (not an emotion, I think) each pack member shows to one another, and we, anthropomorphically, call it love?
    Now I’m really upset….I’ll be devastated if you tell me my dogs don’t love me…:(
    But I want to know what you think, because you are Spirit Dog.

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