One of the most interesting books I ever read was When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. In it, he uses anecdotes to illustrate what most of us already know: Animals do indeed have feelings.
So if we accept that animals have feelings, do they experience feelings the same way we do? Maybe not. But, as Masson points out in his book, that doesn’t mean that what they experience is less than we what we do. In fact, in some instances, they may experience more.
If my own personal interactions with my dogs (and their resulting behavior) are any indication, this is absolutely, positively true. Because, let’s face it, there are just some things that I am never going to be as excited about as my dogs.
Like these four things:
Fun fact about me: If I run, I bleed internally. Okay, that’s not actually true at all. But I swear that’s what it feels like. Still, I know exercise is good for me, so every morning I drag myself out of bed to do one torturous DVD or another. And never once have I thought, “Wow! This is so super fun!” The experts say I should find something to do that’s enjoyable. Trust me. I’ve tried pretty much everything out there to no avail.
But to my dogs, exercise is something to be celebrated. Whether it’s doing zoomies in the backyard or running full speed on a trail or jumping up and down at a squirrel perched above their heads, there’s no doubt that being physically active brings them a tremendous amount of joy. They obviously love the freedom and revel in what their bodies are capable of. It’s something I marvel at, and just once, I wish I could feel that same type of exhilaration while in a dead sprint. Mainly, though, I just worry about bleeding internally.
2. Riding in the Car
I wish I could bottle the excitement my dogs obviously feel when we utter the words, “You wanna go?” It’s like Christmas, Hanukkah, St. Patrick’s Day and the 4th of July all rolled up into one.
First, they’re almost incredulous. “I’m sorry. Did you really ask if we wanted to go? Are you trying to fool us? Because that would just be mean.”
When we reassure them that, yes, we really asked if they wanted to go, a spontaneous puppy party breaks out. If they had confetti, I’m sure they would throw it.
“Go! Yes! Go! Going is the best! I love to go! What are you waiting for? Let’s go, go, go!”
After we leash them up, they practically dance around singing, “We’re going! Oh, yes, we’re going! We are the luckiest dogs in the world to be GOING!”
It’s really quite something. Even when I’m truly excited about going somewhere (vacation, for example), I never even approach the transcendent jubilation that my dogs experience at the simple prospect of riding in the car.
Even though I’m an introvert, I always enjoy having a few close friends or family members over every now and then. However, no matter how much I’m looking forward to our visitors, it pales in comparison to our pooches. Mayzie, especially, takes her duties as the welcoming committee very seriously
It starts as soon as she hears a car pull up in the driveway. Wherever she is, she lifts her head and perks up her ears. When she’s convinced that yes, she has in fact heard a car, she sprints to the front door, staring at it intensely, wagging her tail. If our guests take too long, she begins to whine. “Oh, why, why, why won’t they hurry? I can’t wait to see them, whoever they are!”
When they finally get to the house, Mayzie collapses into an orgy of glee as she flits from one to another, wiggling herself into a “U,” and assuring them that they are her Very Favorite People in the Whole Entire World. I love my friends but I will never love them with the same intensity Mayzie does.
You know how much I said I hate exercise? Well, that’s how much I love food. Which is to say, I love food a LOT. In fact, food probably ranks in the top five of my favorite things. Still, I don’t love it as much as my dogs do.
Every day, twice a day, my dogs get the exact same meal. And every day, twice a day, you would think I was serving up a buffet fit for a king, complete with legs of lamb and foie gras.
“Are you hungry?” I’ll ask.
“Are you kidding? We’re starved! Famished! What are we having? Oh, I hope it’s exactly what we had for breakfast because that was the BEST!”
While I prepare their meal, Ranger pops up and down like a pogo stick and Mayzie spins in circles. “How lucky we are,” they seem to say. “Life sure is great!”
Yes, dogs, it sure is. And how lucky I am to have you around to remind me of it.
Your turn: What things do your dogs get more excited about than you do? Tell us in the comments!
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About the Author: Amber Carlton is owned by two cats and two dogs (all rescues), and is affectionately (?) known as the crazy pet lady amongst her friends and family. She and her husband (the crazy pet man) live in colorful Colorado where they enjoy hiking, biking and camping. Amber is a freelance copywriter and blogger for hire and also acts as the typist and interpreter for her dog’s musings at Mayzie’s Dog Blog. She encourages other crazy pet people to connect with her at her business website, on Twitter or on Facebook.