Some of our blog readers have politely requested that I not make them cry today. It was something like, “Can we pick a light and happy topic?” Of course I thought yesterday’s rescue story was happy, especially with the surprise puppies at the end, but even tears of joy can make us look rather worn down and puffy-eyed. I admit that I too could stand a few less tears.
Many of the tears people around me are experiencing have to do with relationship issues (and so were predisposed to crying with these emotional videos.) And, being in a rather pet-centric field, it got me wondering if we might avoid some of the relational drama if we would simply listen to our pets. Some people swear by their pet’s intuition, but others believe we’ve already made up our minds about people, and animals simply pick up on cues from us and reflect them.
Thousands of years of human interaction can’t be wrong.
It does seem as if dogs, in particular, are anthropologists among us. They have been living among us humans for thousands of years, and have done a darn good job of domesticating us to their liking. So have our cats. Animals have also seen their share of bad humans and will often try to steer clear of certain types of people if abused.
My dogs and cats have studied me and learned how to train me to open doors and feed them on command. My male dog, Joey, is quite the affection hog, and will have me petting him without me even realizing it. Other animals, even wild ones, seem to gravitate to me, and I’ve traditionally liked to flatter myself into believing it’s a stamp from the universe that says I’m a good person, no matter what some may think. The alternative theory is that I bear some invisible universal sign that says “TRAINABLE” in Animalese!
Even the friendliest dog turns tail
As far as judging character, I would guess my dog would gladly let just about anyone in the house as long as they will do the rub time: “Oh, yeah, pet me right THERE… and the silver and china is over here…” There have been a few occasions, however, when Joey has tucked himself into a scared position with a deep growl and has run away when someone has come to the door that I dislike. He’s also occasionally done that for a newcomer as well. I definitely take note of that!
I have often thought I could have saved myself a lot of heartache had I paid attention to the way animals have responded to some of the shadier characters I’ve encountered. Even more so, I could have learned a lot about a person by the way they have treated animals!
New studies suggest what animal lovers have already realized for years: dogs have empathy! Duh. Some would swear their cats do too. That will probably take quite a few more years of study and tax dollars to determine. Regardless, once again, it leads us to the question of whether the pets are picking up on our nonverbal cues about others and mirroring our own feelings, or are they good judges of character, able to see through masks people wear even before we are?
Do you have any stories about a pet judging a person’s character? Have you ever ended a relationship based on your pet’s opinion on someone?