Anyone who’s ever owned a dog knows that they become more than just a pet — they become a member of the family.
That’s why it’s so tough when a pet passes away. Whether the animal died suddenly or of an illness, died after a long life or far too young, the loss is painful and can be so difficult to come to terms with. Some people will heartlessly tell you to just “get over it” or tell you “it’s just a dog.” Those people don’t understand what it’s like to lose a pet. They are so much more than just an animal, and getting over it is easier said than done. In fact, it can feel like there’s nothing anyone can say to lessen the pain a pet owner feels after a loss.
The grief we feel about losing a pet is backed up by scientific research. A study has shown that the mourning process that someone goes through after the loss of a pet is very much real.
In fact, it can actually be more difficult to overcome the loss of a pet than it is to overcome the loss of a human.
That may sound crazy to some, but it’s only one of the things the study found. The thing is, we typically bond with our animals in a manner similar to how we bond with humans. As hormones and chemicals are released in our brain when bonding with animals or people, we feel connected and loved. So when we spend so much of our time deepening that connection, of course we feel a profound loss.
But why is it harder to get over the death of a pet than the death of a human?
Because there’s not an “acceptable” way to mourn that loss.
When we lose a human family member or loved one, there are plenty of different resources to help come to terms with that loss. We are often surrounded by other people who also feel the loss, and that shared experience and their kind words can help ease the pain.
In addition to community, we also have options like counseling or therapy to help us through the difficult time — and we aren’t criticized for the depth of our emotions. We just don’t have the same support when a pet dies. We’re expected to simply move on with our life. We often immediately go back to work, and we’re expected to keep outings and events on our calendar in the days surrounding the death. Cancelling plans because your pet died a week ago? A lot of people think that’s a poor excuse.
A lot of us may have people in our lives that understand our pain after a pet loss, but they may not realize just how deeply it’s affecting us.
And since we have limited resources when dealing with this type of loss, we end up trying to repress our emotions. We never truly come to terms with it or move on in a healthy way. We just bury our feelings.
Psychologist Julie Axelrod says that in addition to losing a loved one, we are also losing a source of comfort and unconditional love. That’s huge.
There’s a domino effect when losing a pet as well, because it leads to a change in your daily routine. It could actually be more disruptive than the loss of a human in your life. A lot of us must schedule our day around our dogs, to make sure they are let outside, taken for walks, and fed. When they’re gone, that loss feels obvious.
We also struggle with feeling like they’re there even when they’re gone. We just instinctively feel like they’re somewhere else in the house or in the backyard. Certain sounds may make us think we hear the whoosh of their tail wagging or their toenails on the kitchen floor.
When we have to make the difficult decision to end a dog’s suffering, the loss has an additional edge to it. It is a humane choice, but it doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye. We can struggle with feeling like there’s more we could have done, or things we could have done differently for them.
If you’ve lost a pet, please know that there is nothing wrong about your broken heart. They were your family, and it doesn’t matter how anyone else thinks you’re supposed to feel. What you are going through is understandable. Even science agrees.
Call a dog by its name, and its tail wags, it starts panting happily, and it showers you with love and affection. Call a cat by its name and … well, cats are a bit harder to read. Does the cat even know what its name is?
So researchers in Japan set out to answer the question: Can a cat understand the difference between its name and any other random word that sounds like it?
Research on cats is slim compared with research on dogs. That may be because cats can’t be bothered to participate in the experiments. But in a study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports, Japanese researchers devised a way to get results whether or not the cats cared to cooperate.Researchers conducted a series of experiments in which a person would speak four different words and then say the cat’s name. According to the study, the words chosen were “nouns with the same length and accents as their own names.” If the cat acted differently when it heard its name, the scientists would know that the cat could distinguish its own name from other words.
The reason for saying four words before the name was to “habituate” the cats — or get them accustomed to hearing words spoken. Cats often move their heads or ears when hearing words spoken, but that response diminished after four words. Only then was it time to say the name — and see how the cats responded.
Researchers conducted several versions of the experiment, all held at the cat’s home, with the owner out of view. In one version, researchers would play a recording of the owner saying the four words with a 15-second pause between each, followed by the cat’s name. In another version, an unfamiliar voice would say the words and the name. Sometimes the words weren’t just nouns, but the names of other cats that lived in the house. In any case, the results were clear: Most of the cats moved their head or ears in response to hearing their name. The results, researchers said, showed that the cats could identify their own names among other, similar words.
“We conclude that cats can discriminate the content of human utterances based on phonemic differences,” the researchers wrote. “This is the first experimental evidence showing cats’ ability to understand human verbal utterances.”
Do the cats actually understand that the name represents their identity? That part is unclear, lead study author Atsuko Saito of Sophia University in Tokyo told The Associated Press. What is clear is that the cat’s name is “salient stimulus,” the researchers said, “and may be associated with rewards, such as food, petting, and play.”
So whether or not Sprinkles identifies herself as Sprinkles, she knows that the word carries a special meaning.
Jennifer Vonk, a professor at Oakland University specializing in animal cognition, told NPR via email that she loved the study’s methodology, which didn’t require extensive training and could be done in an environment where the cats were comfortable. “I agree with the authors that it cannot tell us if cats represent their names as a label that identifies them, but it is interesting that they do attend to it as a special signal, probably associated with rewards such as food and petting,” said Vonk, who was not involved in the study.
The study found one minor exception to cats recognizing their name: cats that lived with others in a cat cafe. Those cats could distinguish their name from random nouns, but not from the names of the other cats. Researchers offered multiple possible explanations — maybe different cafe customers call their names with different intonation, or maybe customers say a cat’s name without offering a reward. “For example, if a visitor calls cat A, but cat B approaches to the visitor and cat B gets petting and treats instead of cat A,” that would “make name discrimination less relevant for these cats,” researchers wrote.
Peter Pongracz, a professor specializing in the study of animal behavior at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, said by email that the study was “very smartly designed,” while noting that the sample that actually demonstrated the “interesting results” was somewhat small.Pongracz defended the tendency of cats to not respond when called, compared with the obedience of dogs. Dogs have been bred for millennia to be easy to train and responsive to humans, he said. Although cats were also domesticated long ago, humans didn’t put as much of a premium on training them to respond. “Most cats fare really well with humans by simply being cute,” Pongracz said.
If a cat is less effusive in its affection, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is individualistic or antisocial, he said; cats respond in their own way. “As the Japanese study showed, cats respond to their name with not necessarily a quick run to their owner, but maybe with a simple, subtle twitch of their ears.”
So cat lovers, take note. Even if your cat doesn’t greet you with the same ardor as a dog, it loves you just the same, Probably.
What if a human and a dog stood side-by-side and both needed help, but you could only choose one. It wouldn’t be an easy decision, would it? Some studies reveal when it comes to feeling empathy, many people pick pooches over other people. Does that surprise you?
Sociologists and anthropologists from Northeastern University and the University of Colorado pondered why, when reports of animals in need make headlines, the outrage and response level is sometimes higher than when tragedies impact humans.
The researchers asked 256 college students to read a fictitious news report, and reveal their levels of empathy for a brutally beaten adult or child versus an adult dog or puppy.
The results: The undergrads felt more empathy toward the dogs than the adult human. The study says, “We also found more empathy for victims who are human children, puppies, and fully-grown dogs than for victims who are adult humans. Age makes a difference for empathy toward human victims, but not for dog victims.” The study also mentions a British charity which also conducted its own dog-versus-person empathy experiment. It ran a fundraising campaign featuring two versions of the same ad.According to the research, “Both contained text that read, ‘Would you give £5 to save Harrison from a slow, painful death?’ One version featured a picture of the real Harrison Smith, an eight-year-old boy diagnosed with Duchenne (Muscular Dystrophy). The other featured a stock photo of a dog.
When the ads ran on MSN’s United Kingdom website with links to donate to the charity, the one depicting the dog attracted twice as many clicks as the one with the boy (230, compared to 111).” Why would people pick pooches over people?
The study pontificates: “It may be that many people appraise dogs as vulnerable, regardless of their age, when compared to adult humans. In other words, dogs, whether young or adult, are seen as possessing many of the same qualities associated with human babies; they are seen as unable to fully protect themselves, compared to adult humans.”
Psychotherapist Justin Lioi agrees. “We are more able to empathize with someone whom we deem to have little blame for their circumstances,” Lioi told I Love My Dog. “Dogs and babies are the definition of didn’t-ask-for-this and we are more likely to rush to support them.”
Dr. Kathrine McAleese, a sociologist and systemic psychotherapist, has clients who work extensively with dogs. She said she sees this phenomenon regularly. “People who fit this study’s outcomes will often view animals as innocents and humans as not having the same purity,” McAleese told I Love My Dog. “When I ask them why they will spend money on their dog’s health, fitness, nutrition, yet not on themselves, the overwhelming answer I get is ‘because my dog deserves it.’” McAleese adds dog trainers have told her how they struggle to have patience or empathy for the owner, yet have endless patience for the dog. “Why? The dog can’t speak up for itself, so they are the dog’s advocate,” she said. The study results didn’t surprise certified behaviorist and animal trainer, Russell Hartstein either. He told I Love My Dog: “Dogs provide unconditional love and many times people form stronger bonds with their pet than with another human.”
Hartstein said many of his clients take such good care of their pets, that it’s similar to how some care for their children. “From going to school for behavior and training, health, nutrition, wellness, enrichment and play, people form very close intimate bonds with their best friends.”
What do you think of the study? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your comments below and let us know!
Contributed by: Mary Schwager, aka, WatchdogMary , a TV and print journalist that proudly watchdogs for animals. She’s honored to have won 14 Emmy, 7 Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press awards for investigative reporting & writing.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), an estimated 78 million dogs are owned as pets in the United States. It is unclear when dogs were first domesticated, but a study published last year claims that, at least in Europe, dogs were tamed 20,000–40,000 years ago.
It is likely that humans and dogs have shared a special bond of friendship and mutual support ever since at least the Neolithic period — but why has this bond been so long-lasting?
Of course, these cousins of the wolves have historically been great at keeping us and our dwellings safe, guarding our houses, our cattle, and our various material goods. Throughout history, humans have also trained dogs to assist them with hunting, or they have bred numerous quirky-looking species for their cuteness or elegance.
However, dogs are also — and might have always been — truly valued companions, famed for their loyalty and seemingly constant willingness to put a smile on their owners’ faces.In this Spotlight, we outline the research that shows how our dogs make us happier, more resilient when facing stress, and physically healthier, to name but a few ways in which these much-loved quadrupeds support our well-being.
How dogs keep you in good health
Many studies have suggested that having dogs as pets is associated with better physical health, as reviews of the existing literature show. These findings persist. person walking two dogs
Dogs ‘force’ their owners to take daily exercise.
Just last year, Medical News Today reported on a study that showed that owning a dog reduces a person’s risk of premature death by up to a third. Also, researchers at the University of Harvard in Cambridge, MA, suggest that dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease.
Why is that? It is difficult to establish a causal relationship between owning a dog and enjoying better health.
However, the benefits may appear thanks to a series of factors related to lifestyle adjustments that people tend to make after they decide to adopt a canine friend.
The most prominent such lifestyle factor is physical activity. There is no way around it: if you own a dog, you have to commit to twice daily walks — and sometimes even more.
According to a paper published in The Journal of Physical Activity and Health, dog owners are more likely to walk for leisure purposes than both non-pet owners and people who own pet cats. The results were based on studying a cohort of 41,514 participants from California, some of whom owned dogs, some of whom owned cats, and some of whom did not have any pets. Moreover, several recent studies — including one from the University of Missouri in Columbia and another from Glasgow Caledonian University in the United Kingdom — found that adults aged 60 and over enjoy better health thanks to the “enforced” exercise they get by walking their dogs.
Dogs can strengthen our health not just as we grow older, but also much, much earlier than that: before we are even born. Research published last year suggests that children who were exposed to dogs while still in the womb — as their mothers spent time around dogs during pregnancy — had a lower risk of developing eczema in early childhood. Also, children exposed to certain bacteria carried by dogs also experienced a reduction of asthma symptoms, the researchers noted.
‘Dogs make people feel good’
Perhaps the most intuitive benefit of sharing your life and home with a canine friend is that dogs give you “feel-good vibes” almost instantly.
person snuggling puppy Dogs are often used as therapy animals because they have a calming effect on people. It is really difficult not to cheer up, even after a hard day’s work, when you are greeted with — often vocal — enthusiasm by a friendly dog.
This, researchers explain, is due to the effect of the “love hormone” oxytocin. “During the last decades,” write the authors of a review that featured in Frontiers in Psychology, “animal assistance in therapy, education, and care has greatly increased.” When we interact with dogs, our oxytocin levels shoot up. Since this is the hormone largely responsible for social bonding, this hormonal “love injection” boosts our psychological well-being.
Previous studies analyzed in the review have revealed that dog owners have more positive social interactions, and that the presence of canine friends makes people more trusting…and also more deserving of trust. Moreover, dogs appear to reduce symptoms of depression and render people more resilient to stress. That is why dogs are often used as therapy animals. As researcher Brian Hare, of Duke University in Durham, NC, noted in an interview for The Washington Post:
“Dogs make people feel good, and their only job is to help people in stressful situations feel better.”
Researchers hypothesize that therapy dogs can improve the psychological well-being of children going through cancer therapy, as well as help individuals diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) deal with disruptive symptoms or even prevent the onset of PTSD episodes.
Ross Taylor is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Boulder who has worked as a photojournalist for more than 20 years.
During this time, his pictures have captured the stark realities of life in some of the world’s most adverse living conditions and often focus on social issues related to, or as a direct result of, traumatic events. “It’s my hope that such documentary work in this realm can help build empathy toward others, by lending more insight to conditions we share,” Taylor said”
For his new series, Last Moments, Taylor focuses his camera on a certain trauma that many of us have had or will experience in our lives — the loss of a beloved family pet. With the guidance of licensed veterinarians, Taylor was allowed access to capture the emotional final moments between owners and their pets. The resulting images are a sincere and respectful representation of the undeniable bonds between humans and their animal companions.
Here, Taylor speaks with a newspaper on his emotional journey through Last Moments and shares with us a selection of pictures from the series:
The focus of Last Moments, in part, is to help those going through this process to know they’re not alone, and that their grief should not be overlooked, nor minimized by others. It’s real, and it’s painful.
Nationally, thousands of pet owners go through this painful experience each year, and the decision to have at-home pet euthanasia is part of an emerging trend to receive end-of-life care in the home, instead of at a clinic.
Producing this body of work has been one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had. It’s fundamentally shifted how I react when someone tells me they lost a pet, or that a pet is dying. My heart is more open toward those going through this process, and I have a profoundly deep respect for veterinarians who do this daily. They’re impressive people.
I was moved by my time witnessing the emotions with each experience. In almost every case, everyone was moved to tears, sometimes sobbing profusely. But all of these families are so grateful to the veterinarians for their compassion. This blend of heartbreak and compassion is striking. The work they do is important. There’s one particular image of a woman who is anguishing out loud over her dog, just moments after she realized that her dog had died. She’s cradling her pet’s face tenderly in her right hand, while her husband and the veterinarian, Dr. Dani McVety, reach out to comfort her. It was one of the early cases I witnessed, and it had a profound impact on me. It was in that moment that I realized the importance of documenting the intensity of the bond. My heart broke for her in that moment.
My interest in this project originated a couple of years ago. A good friend of mine was agonizing over the death of her dog, and she decided to have her pet euthanized at home. She didn’t want the animal to be stressed by a visit to the clinic and thought it would be easier on her dog at home. It was an intense and emotional experience for her. In many ways, it was her hardest in years. Driven by this, I began researching the topic and reached out to a number of organizations. The first one that responded was Lap of Love, based in Tampa, Florida. McVety, the founder and CEO of the Tampa-based organization, was open to my request, and more importantly, the reasons behind it. Within a month or so of contact, I began working with them. I also began working with Caring Pathways in Denver. They are also a deeply compassionate organization, and I’m profoundly thankful to them as well.
Finally, none of this could have been done without the families allowing me to be there. They have my respect. I think, in the end, the reason they allowed my presence has a lot to do with the fact that we all have a story to tell, and theirs is worth sharing. Since beginning this series, the amount of people who have responded to the project is overwhelming. So many people have written me sharing their story. The universality of the bond, and the pain when it’s broken, is something to which millions of people can relate. I’ve had some of the most touching emails and recollections of stories from people; it’s just incredible.
I hope people will never say to someone after losing a pet, “Oh it’s just a dog,” or, “It’s just a cat. You can get another.” It’s crucial to recognize, and respect, the pain that comes along with this. I hope, in the end, it builds more empathy toward one another.
1- Schnauzer Finds Her Sick Owner
I like to hear stories of dogs traveling long distances to be reunited with their homeowners, however this one is additional sweet, as a result of it involves a awfully Little Dog on a mission to envision her unwell human.
A schnauzer named Sissy loose the Franck family’s home, traveled twenty blocks, and located the hospital wherever his owner, Nancy, was being treated, consistent with Dogster. Now those area unit some pursuit skills!
2- Dog Detects Skin Cancer
Dogs appear to own a insight, however it seems they could even have a “sick sense.” Lauren Gauthier saved a eyed dog, named Victoria, however within the finish, it absolutely was Victoria World Health Organization saved Lauren, consistent with within Edition.
“She’d been virtually swing her nose onto my nose wherever the cancer was,” Gauthier aforesaid in associate degree interview with within Edition. “My dog’s persistence in smelling that space created Pine Tree State marvel if there was one thing suspicious concerning it.”
Gauthier listened to Victoria and saw her doctor concerning the spot, then had surgery to get rid of the cancer.
It seems the dog sense that saved Gauthier is not only a happening prevalence. “Dogs’ powerful noses have three hundred million sensors, compared with a human’s meagre five million,” reportable CNN.
“In addition, dogs have a second smelling device within the backs of their noses that we do not have, known as Jacobson’s organ. That double smelling system permits trained dogs to sight cancer’s distinctive odors, known as volatile organic compounds.”
3- Dog Knows 1,000+ Words
I knew dogs were intelligent, however I had no plan they might be this sensible. John Pilley, a retired psychological science academician, educated his shepherd dog Chaser quite one,000 words, that is that the “the largest best-known vocabulary of any animal except humans,” in step with USA nowadays.
In addition to correct nouns, Chaser has learned verbs, adverbs, prepositions, and currently even three-part comments, like “Take ball to Frisbee,” according USA nowadays.
Instead of asking, “Are you smarter than a fifth critic,” you would possibly have to be compelled to begin asking, “Are you smarter than a border collie?”
4- A Dog Guards Baby All Night
This specific story involves one implausibly accountable dog, and one not-so-responsible girl. A young mother in Russia took her three-month-old baby and her sheep dog, Lada, to a park, however all over up having a number of too several drinks along with her friends, and went home and to bed while not the baby, per the Russian news web site RT.
“Only within the morning did the girl notice she had brought home neither the baby nor the dog,” reported RT. Fortunately, the sheep dog had stayed with the baby long, and each were found safe.
5- NYC Dog Who Wants To Hug Everyone
If anyone thinks New Yorkers are not hospitable, they have solely meet Louboutina, or Loubie, to alter their minds.
“It’s commonplace to seek out Loubie standing upright on the streets of latest royalty sporting a bright red walking harness, needing to embrace anyone WHO walks by,” explained Rover. Loubie, referred to as “the smooching dog,” even has her own catchphrase: “Spreading love and beauty within the huge 🍎 and also the World,” in line with her own Instagram account (which has over two hundred,000 followers).
“One of her favorite things to try to to is stand at the corner of fifth and 17th—her ‘stage,’ as Cesar calls it—and let the folks return to her,” explained Cesar, her owner, in associate degree interview with Rover.
A man in Wisconsin has turned snoozing into a charitable act.Terry Lauerman, 75, goes to his native animal shelter in city daily and takes naps with its cats.
Though, that’s just about his intention.According to Elizabeth Feldhausen, the founding father of shelter Pet Sanctuary, Lauerman strolled into the shelter regarding six months agone with a straightforward dream and a cat brush in tow.
“He simply walked in and commenced brushing,” Feldhausen told HuffPost on Th, noting that he ne’er asked to be a volunteer. “So eventually we have a tendency to told him he was a politician volunteer and had him fill out our volunteer type.”
Feldhausen aforesaid Lauerman visits the cage-free sanctuary — that rescues disabled cats that will be in danger of mercy killing at different facilities — daily and stays for concerning 3 hours. After he grooms a cat for a touch, he generally dozes off.
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Cooper is 2-year-old dog which born with a rare birth defect. He suffered from short spine syndrome, which is caused by irresponsible inbreeding. That meant he does not have a neck.
Cooper was abandoned with only 2 months on a farm, when his previous owners realised he had no use for them.
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When I checked out my appointment calendar for the day, i assumed one thing should be wrong. somebody WHO worked within the fitness business was conveyance his cat into the Tufts fleshiness Clinic for Animals. Did he confuse U.S. for a unique quite weight management clinic? Is he trying to urge muscle on his cat or even kitty supermolecule shakes?
I was completely stunned once I necessitated my appointment within the lobby associate degreed associate degree athletic man stood up with a nearly 20-pound cat! I asked if I may speak flat out with him. Why will somebody WHO clearly is aware of a great deal regarding keeping healthy have to be compelled to bring his cat to a veterinary nutritionist? What would he say if the cat was one in all of} the individuals he helps to stay work every day? Our speech then went one thing like this…
Well, I’d tell her, suck it up, buttercup. Do some kitty pushups and no additional treats!
Well, I even have to raise, then, what’s stopping you from doing this along with your cat?
With a disquieted look of guilt on his face, he replied, “Well, Dr. Linder, I mean… she meows at me…
This was the instant i noticed that i used to be treating pet fleshiness all wrong. I required to focus less on the pet and additional on the link between individuals and their pets. That’s what’s virtually cutting the lives in need of the dogs and cats we have a tendency to love most.
When Becky Evans started learning cat-human relationships, she unbroken hearing, over and another time, regarding however cats area unit psychopaths. On one hand, anyone World Health Organization has looked into the curiously blank face of a cat loaf is aware of precisely what which means. But also, precisely what will it mean to use a personality’s mental identification to felines?
We tend to let these clawed creatures into our homes and our beds, however we tend to still have hassle understanding them on something however our own human terms.
Evans, a psychological science postgraduate at the University of port, recently devised a survey for homeowners World Health Organization assumes that their cats area unit psychopaths. The survey asks homeowners to explain the allegedly insane behaviors, so way they need enclosed bullying alternative pets, seizing the dog’s bed, and waiting on the room counter to pounce on unsuspecting relations. In short, pretty typical cat behavior.
These answers get at the tough linguistics of occupation a cat a “psychopath” once it’s simply … a cat. There’s continually associate implicit comparison once we mention cats as reserved very little jerks, says Mikel Maria Delgado, a postdoctoral investigator on cat behavior at the University of California at Davis. which comparison is with dogs, that humans have spent thousands of additional years domesticating and molding in our image.