Love is a crazy thing. Illogical, inexplicable, and oftentimes maddening, it somehow informs many of our crucial decisions and shapes us as humans. Much has been said about the connection between humans and their dogs — man’s best friend, old faithful, etc. — but how do we begin to make sense of the strong love we feel for our pets?
Animal behavior scientists posit that our dogs love us because we take care of them. In my house, for instance, the bearer of food is usually my dog’s most adored human. But why do we love our dogs so deeply? Are we biologically wired to care for soft, helpless creatures? Or do we love them because they bring out the best in us?
Science may not have a definitive answer, but any dog lover will attest to the fact that the love we feel for our pets is almost magical. Brett Podolsky, co-founder of The Farmer’s Dog, weighs in below on the science of loving dogs and why he loves his dog so much.
What do you think it is about dogs that makes humans so devoted to them?
For humans, being likable and making friends is rooted in how we make each other feel. When someone greets you with a smile or gives you a genuine compliment, you’re more likely to befriend or feel close to them. Dogs are so genuine and are always so excited to see you. You can leave and come back 10 minutes later and they act like they haven’t seen you in a month. They make us feel so loved which, in turn, fosters the connection we feel to them. Human beings have a lot to learn from the way dogs love and conduct themselves. They’re genuine and only do what their heart tells them to do. They run on pure instinct and love unconditionally. We’re so inhibited by this idea of wanting to fit in, but dogs don’t have that subconscious voice. Whatever they feel is exactly what they do. They just love you because they love you and are able to live a truly happy life without any concern for what other people think or feel about them.
Tell us about the first dog you fell in love with.
Bandit was my childhood dog. I wanted a dog really badly growing up but my parents wouldn’t get me one. Finally, my dad caved and brought me to the breeder where my cousin and best friend had both just gotten puppies. There was only one dog left when we got there and his name was already Bandit because he was constantly stealing everyone else’s food and hoarding it. He was just such a sweet dog and was so amazing with people and other dogs. He was also very vocal. Not in an annoying way; he would just really speak to you and was almost conversational. You could feel the love he had for every creature he met.
What do you love most about your dog Jada?
It’s funny: she actually reminds me of my fiancée, Michaela. Michaela was the first human being I ever met who had such a big heart I didn’t know how it fit in her body. She loves unconditionally and she loves deeply. Jada is literally Michaela’s daughter. She loves to hold hands and will just stare into your eyes like you’re the best thing ever created. She’s such a genuine dog and can just meet somebody new and curl up next to them and look at them with eyes that say, “I love you so much. Even though we just met, I can tell you’re a good person. It might be because you’re rubbing my butt but either way, I’ll take it.”
What do you love most about your dog? Share your love stories below!