What We Are Reading: Dog Is Love

Scientists have long insisted that even though we may feel great affection and love for our dog, our dogs don’t really love us back. Attributing human emotions to animals, dogs included, is known as anthropomorphizing them and researchers have been extremely careful not to fall into what they consider its fatal trap. 

Dog lovers however don’t pay any attention to these “rules.” We know that we love our dogs, and we know deep down that they love us too. With every joyful wag of their tails and licks of their tongues, this feeling is reinforced.  

Scientist and canine researcher Clive Wynne used to be firmly in the research camp. But then he began to look at the collective evidence from research on dogs from his lab and other labs around the world and he changed his mind. In his new book, Dog Is Love: Why And How Your Dog Loves You, he delves into the heart of our complex relationship with an animal whose origins go back into prehistory.  

Professor Wynne looks at everything about dogs, from their brains and hormones to their DNA and even their faces and tails to show that love and affection for humans is the very essence of what a dog is and is meant to be. 

This paragraph from the book sums up how important this research is and what it can mean to us: 

If dogs’ ability to love is what makes them unique, it also stands to reason that it gives them unique needs. And if there is a single, simple conclusion to be drawn from my research, it is that we humans need to be doing much more to honor and return our dogs’ affection. Their ability to love us simply demands reciprocation – and many humans willingly oblige, even if they have no idea of the science behind this age-old dynamic of mutual adoration. Science can both explain our close relationship with dogs and make it better. We can boost our dogs’ well-being with interventions as simple as touching them more, leaving them alone less, and giving them the opportunities they need to live in a network of strong, emotionally positive relationships.” 

This is a book every dog lover should read, as you’ll walk away with a much deeper appreciation for your canine companion and his astounding capacity to love you. Highly recommended.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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