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I can never determine whether or not Harper loves me. What I mean by this is the philosophical and/or scientific question are dogs capable of experiencing what we call love. Does she feel affection for me as I do for her or am I just a two-legged means to the things she wants. A scientist in Australia is training dogs to stay put in MRIs long enough to peer into their pooch-y noggins to see what lights up.  Doggy brains light up in the same areas as human ones when presented with yummies.  Another study shows after dogs are trained to ‘wait of it’ their frontal lobes are active just as in humans when we engage in self-restraint. So we have similar wiring systems.* But does this mean dogs ‘love’ us, or are they merely great nonconscious manipulators.

Although I am her ticket to ride for walks and treats and 3AM doorman activities, Harper regularly licks me. She doesn’t lick Someone. I’m not talking a quick tongue job but long time sessions often covering my head and scalp with slobber. We can’t deduce why she does this and only with me. Maybe this is her means of showing love; perhaps I am just that tasty.

I like to think Harper and dogs in general ‘love’ us but this may be a case of projection. We love them so they must love us too.**  I would like it to be true. Most dog owners I suspect feel their canine companions love them.

If Harper ‘loves’ anyone it is Someone. When he comes home Harper lights up with the radiance of a brilliant sunrise and jumps up on him and runs around looking quite happy. In contrast when I come home she doesn’t run up to me but wags her tail and leads me to the kitchen where I have the awful intuition she is playing me to go for a walk and/or a treat. The fact ‘this works’  shows to me she has connected the doggy-dots at some level, but again this is probably not ‘love’.  Perhaps it is an indirect sign of love along the lines from “Moonstruck”:

“Ma, I’m getting married.”

“Do you love him Loretta?”

“Good. When you love them, they drive you crazy, because they know they can.”



*One exceptional difference is the amount of brain-stuff dedicated to smell. Dogs have enough to fill an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper if it was spread out. Humans in contrast would only cover the area of a postage stamp.

**Cats I strongly suspect are a different matter.

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January 2019

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018