Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Dog Cries Over Grandma

Lockwood Animal Rescue Center, based in Ventura County CA, posted this video back in April 2013. It's still doing the rounds.

The dog’s name is Wiley, alternately described in the media as a malamute, “service wolf” and wolf-dog. He’s supposedly making that commotion because he’s sad that Gladys, a dear friend, is dead. This would mean:

  1. I understand that my Grandma Gladys is dead, and this makes me sad.
  2. I know this is where her memorial is, and this is triggering me to get upset.
  3. I’m expressing my sadness by weeping and crying.

We don’t know for sure whether dogs feel grief, but they almost certainly do. So (1) is okay. We also don’t know whether a dog could know their dead owner is in a cemetery - it’s a possibility, given their amazing sense of smell -  although there’s no way to know whether Gladys was buried or cremated. And, there’s the possibility that the dog’s handlers are giving him cues that this is the place, maybe they’re acting sad themselves. These unknowns are irrelevant, however, because we do know that dogs don’t cry and weep when they’re sad. They whine, pace, howl, refuse food, sleep excessively and bark, but they don’t need a Kleenex. 

What’s more likely is this dog is having some sort of breathing difficulty. It could be reverse-sneezing, or the aftermath of a seizure, or overheating, or a neck trauma. If dogs expressed their emotional torment in this way, chances are we’d see it all the time (especially in my dog, who becomes distraught when her favorite toy isn’t where she left it…). 

Can’t blame an animal shelter for exploiting an opportunity to go viral, but still: nope. 

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