The dog world is full of mysteries and questions. Answers are harder to come by. Most dog lovers I know are know-it-alls. They don’t have “I don’t know” in their vocabulary.
Dog biologists and psychologists are more open to doubt, but they disagree wildly on the essential elements of dog life.
I pulled into a grocery store yesterday and saw this dog, a Pyrenees mix of some kind, starting at me.
I believe he was smiling. Yet most serious biologists don’t think that dogs smile; they react.
Since they don’t know what a smile is, how could she be smiling at me?
It’s like mourning. Almost every dog lover will insist (without a doubt) that dogs grieve for their humans, as opposed to just being upset by a change in their routines.
I’ve lost many dogs in my life, and I’ve never seen one grieve another dog or any human. Life goes on, and soon.
Since everyone tells me they suffer, there must be something to it, but I have yet to see it.
I also have yet to have a dog who suffered from separation anxiety. To me, this comes under the category of things we want and need to see rather than things that are true. I don’t believe in separation anxiety except in extreme cases of trauma or human projection. Mostly, these are things dogs do because their either learn them from us, or we want them to do.
I know dog lovers who are upset when their dogs don’t have separation anxiety, they think it means the dogs don’t love them.
Vets are happy about the very new idea of separation anxiety for dogs (in nature, they are alone almost all of the time except when hunting); there are all kinds of expensive calming medicines to prescribe. Ten years ago, no dog in America had separation anxiety. We are making them nuts.
Hundreds of thousands of dogs in America are now on valium, something they didn’t seem to need for thousands of years.
When I leave the dogs alone in the house, I walk out the door.
No-fuss or drama. I’m not upset, so they aren’t upset. It’s the same thing when I come home. I might get a wag or two, but my coming and going is a normal part of the routine, not a drama. Because I don’t believe in it, I can’t pass it along to them. We very often give our head shit to our dogs.
I like to think of this dog I ran into yesterday as smiling. I think Zinnia smiles when she brings me a bone or ball or sticks and wags her tail like mad.
But I don’t know. It’s just what I think. I hope to figure it out one day. In any case, I smiled back at this sweet dog, and waved too.