I adopted a Smooth-Collie mix last November from one of the local animal shelters. Lovey is one of those dogs that you immediately fall in love with and are so glad you decided to take into your family. Upon entering my home, Lovey’s affection showed no bounds and there was never a moment when she appeared afraid or intimidated by the other pets in my family. This wonderful dog just fit right in like she was born here.
When I describe Lovey’s amazing behavior to people, I’m told over and over again that Lovey is trying to tell me how grateful she is that I took her in and gave her a home. Is this really what Lovey is telling me? Do our pets understand what being grateful is all about? And are they able to express their gratitude to us when we’ve done something nice for them? Or are we once again projecting our own ideas and emotions onto our pets and allowing our imaginations to tell us the story we want to hear?
In talking with pets, especially pets at the ends of their lives, I hear many expressions of gratitude for the good times they’ve had with their people. Grateful pets tell me often about their kind, loving humans who take care of them, feed them and cuddle with them. These expressions of gratitude are not merely passing thoughts or “by the way” moments in time. These expressions are heart-felt and sincere. They reveal another layer of the emotional lives of our pets that we’re learning more and more about every day.
So when Lovey greets me at the door with her sweet cries of joy upon seeing me again and looks at me with those big brown eyes that could melt a stick of butter, is she showing her gratitude to me for giving her a home and for loving her? After living with Lovey for 6 months, I have come to believe that she has highly attuned and expressive emotions that lie just beneath the surface of her thick fur. And of all the emotions I’ve observed in this wonderful dog, gratitude is at the top of the list.
Blessings to you and your furry friends.