Dogs CAN love!

A dog sniffing a laptop and trying to type.
Illustration by Vanessa Lennon

Dear Olivia,

I am a little confused today. I’m kind of confused everyday, but this is a little different. Or a lot different. How do you know which is which?

Somebody told your mom that dogs can’t feel love or devotion. They told her that we only follow the person who feeds them. They also said to stop humanizing dogs by giving them human emotions.

Is love really a humans-only thing?

Maybe dog love is different than human love. Dogs don’t have special words for love because we don’t need them. Our love just is. Or it isn’t.

Someone else told your mom that dogs don’t love, instead they become devoted to whoever has food. Yes, dogs will follow someone who feeds them, but humans do that too.

You ever seen a hungry human? They can turn on you double-quick. Then, when you give them some food like bacon or chocolate, they become all nice again. How is that different than a grouchy hungry dog? It isn’t.

I can prove that dogs love. Your mom has a little dog name Felix. You know the yappy little fluffball? (Seriously, even I think he’s bit full of himself. He’s 9-and-a-half pounds of over-fuzzy attitude!)

Felix hides crackers for when your mom is sick. Seriously!

I think he has a wall-hole under your parents’ bed or something. Whenever she has crackers he begs for one and he tucks it away. And whenever she gets sick he brings her a yummy, dusty cracker to make her feel better. He puts it in front of her and barks until she eats it. (I think she’s just pretending, but I don’t want to tell Felix and hurt his feelings.)

That has to mean that Felix loves your mom, right? If he didn’t love her he would chomp the cracker by himself. He wouldn’t save it and share it later. He stares at her for hours and follows her everywhere, even when she doesn’t have food. Just like I follow your brother, and just like your cats follow you.

I know people say that love is a human emotion, but it’s a dog emotion too. We may just show it a bit differently, and we may have simpler rules, but it’s still love.

Dogs can love, whether humans earn it or not. Just sayin’



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