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Why We Love Dogs

The True Love to our Little Buddies

The question of why we love dogs is an interesting one that scholars have been thinking about and studying for years (maybe even centuries). It’s largely a philosophical question whose answer involves the science of psychology and, possibly, anthropology. And, unfortunately, the best answer that the experts have found to date may not be the most romantic or fulfilling. In fact, it might be downright disappointing - but it doesn’t have to be.

The relationship between humans and dogs has only grown since day oneThe consensus among scientists and philosophers alike appears to be that we love dogs because, simply, they love us back – or at least they appear to love us back.

What exactly goes on in the minds of dogs may never be fully understood by mankind, but experts say that the appearance of love, as humans know it anyway, may just be a canine ruse. Dogs (along with cats and other animals commonly kept as pets) make up an animal category that some scholars call “social parasites.” These animals are able to mimic various social attributes of humans and, thus, fool people into developing “love” for them. They have learned over the centuries, that humans will typically meet all of their basic needs (food and shelter) if they simply behave as if they love their owners.

That’s why we don’t necessarily love raccoons, squirrels, or rats. These animals are not social parasites. They can live independently of humans and, therefore, do not have to show love to humans in order to get by.

Dogs, meanwhile, have a natural ability to do things – like greet us excitedly at the door, jump happily into our laps, or curl up next to us in bed – that endear us to them. And we naturally interpret those behaviors as love because, well, that’s just what they mean to humans.

A dog memorial will pay tribute to a truly special friend for all eternityBut scholars realize that dogs are not human, so they point out the unfortunate reality: it may be fun to assume that dogs really love us, but “love” from a dog is probably all just an act that dogs of all breeds have learned how to perform over the centuries.

Disappointing as that reality may be, it doesn’t stop even those who study this topic professionally from loving dogs just the same. Love, philosophers and psychologists tell us, is more about the individual who experiences it than anything else. If a person, animal, or even thing, makes us feel loved then, well, that’s love. And people will generally do what they can to encourage behaviors that make them feel loved.

Aside from the rationalizing of why, or if, dogs love us, there is no doubt that their presence can be a great source of comfort. Owning a dog has many benefits for humans. Studies have shown that a dog can help reduce the overall stress in life and help us be more active, leading to a healthier lifestyle. Also, the care that needs to be provided for a dog introduces a routine into one's lifestyle, which is an incredible form of therapy for those who suffer from depression or PTSD. A dog can even help socially, because they offer a great conversation starter. Dog owners can definitely attest to the number of times they are stopped when walking their dog, for a passerby to greet the pet. Therapy dogs serve an even larger role in that they help those with physical disabilities live independently. Studies have also shown that children of families who own pets tend to have less allergies because their body naturally builds up an immunity to the dander and dust that a pet may bring in.

So that’s why we love dogs. They do things – whether intentional or not is debatable – to make us feel loved. And we love them for it in return.

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