So, why do people love dogs? I certainly know why I do. It’s because they give their love unconditionally. And, they’re always there when I need a friend. Dogs don’t judge. A dog doesn’t care if I’m rich or poor, old or young, black or white. They are warm, cuddly, playful and emotive. A dog lives in this exact moment. And, he will never have an ulterior motive for befriending me (except for maybe a dog treat or two).
Dogs were likely domesticated because man needed them. They helped with hunting, herding and were a great alarm when danger was near. Furthermore, this relationship was mutually beneficial because in return the dog received companionship, food, shelter and protection. So, it was here that the bond likely began.
My dogs and why I loved them
I have had several dogs throughout my life and each has had a special place in my heart. My first dog was a Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund mix named Charcoal. I can remember as a very young boy playing with her in the yard. She would sleep with me in the tent I had constructed using a card table and blankets. I loved her because she was my devoted companion. She lived until age 14 and it was a great loss to me when she passed.
Fritz was my family’s next dog (really my brother’s dog) but I was also close to him. He was a Pointer mix. I loved him because he was so funny and had a wonderful presence. One day, when he was around eight years old, someone left a door open and he got out. We never saw him again. It was a devastating loss of an animal who we loved.
It was quite a long time before I had a dog again. Frank was a dog my wife and I rescued from a shelter. He was just minutes away from being euthanized because no one wanted to adopt him. That was probably because he had bad skin and a permanently broken and dislocated front leg. He looked like he was assembled from several different dogs so we also called him Frankenstein. I loved him because he needed so much love. He had obviously been badly abused in his younger years. It was a tragic day for my wife and I when he died.
My wife and I also had a dog named Molly. She was a Cocker Spaniel. We found her in the middle of the street, blind and scared. She was already quite old and lived with us several years until her death at age 16. I loved her because of her vulnerability and ability to give unconditional love. Her loss was heartbreaking.
Our most recent dog was Cissy who was probably a Terrier/Lab mix. My wife found her running around in the middle of a busy intersection. She called to Cissy and she hopped right in the car! At the time, we estimated that Cissy was less than 1 year old.
Anyway, the reason I loved Cissy was because of her exuberance and positive energy. And, she was devoted to my wife and I. If we went somewhere in the car, Cissy was always with us. Cissy lived to 14 years old. She died the day before Thanksgiving 2015. The pain of that loss still cuts like a knife.
We are likely approaching the time when we will be ready for a new dog.
So, why do people love dogs? My guess is that most people love dogs for the reasons above. But, what does science have to say about our love and relationships with dogs?
Why do people love dogs? According to science
A study published in the Journal of Science a few years ago revealed that there is a reason we feel so much love for our furry companions. When humans and dogs look into each others eyes, both get a boost of Oxytocin, Oxytocin is a hormone that makes us feel good! It is the same hormone that creates the special bond between a parent and their human baby.
To get these results, researchers invited 30 dog/human pairs into the lab to look into each others eyes. Then they took urine samples. The outcome was a 130% rise in Oxytocin levels for the dogs and a 300% rise for the humans. I think that’s really cool!
In addition, we know that dogs just make us feel better. Dogs reduce stress, lower cholesterol and heighten self-esteem.
By the way, one way you can show your dog some love is with good food! Click here.
Why do dogs love people? According to science
Another reason we love dogs is because they love us! A recent series of studies suggested that dogs recognize the traits of kindness in humans. Then, they give trust in return. Just like humans, the dog experiences the emotions of love and attachment.
In these studies, researchers used MRI to map the brain activity of dogs. To do this, the subjects had to stay perfectly still. So, you can imagine the challenge the researchers had! But they were successful through training and trust. Click here to read more
The MRI scan let the researchers map the activity in the Caudate Nucleus of the dog. This is the area of the brain where emotions are measured. They found that activity increased in response to hand signals that indicated food, smells of familiar dogs and people and the return of a familiar human. Activity also increased when dogs heard the voice of a familiar human.
As Gregory Burns, one of the researchers wrote “Dogs are people too.”
A little more love
Yes, many people love their dogs and will do anything for them. But, unfortunately, not everyone feels the same. Many people abuse dogs. Some treat them as commodities to be used however the person sees fit. Dogs are still used in laboratory experiments. City officials kill dogs because it is a convenient way to reduce populations when a municipality feels there are too many. People race dogs until they are no longer track winners and then kill them. Puppy mills are running rampant and raids on these have uncovered dogs living in deplorable conditions. And, believe it or not, there is still a huge dog meat trade in some Asian countries. Further, people frequently abandon them when they can no longer take care of them.
Why do people abuse dogs? That is a whole topic on to itself.
But, there’s a reverse of that. In compassionate people, love increases when they learn the plight of these dogs. It is in times like these we feel overwhelming love for dogs. Just look at the outpouring of concern from people using social media when they find out about abused and neglected animals. They want to help abused dogs and make them feel whole and loved.
What do famous people say about their love for dogs
- Will Rogers: “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
- Johnny Depp: “The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.”
- Carrie Underwood: “The more boys I meet the more I love my dog.”
- Josh Billings: “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
- Milan Kundera: “Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.” Click here for more dog quotes.
If you are reading this, you are likely a dog lover. So why do you love dogs? Feel free to leave your comments and experiences below. We would love to hear from you!