A great many things have outraged me in the last couple months, but this quote in a New York Times article sent me over the edge:
“Dogs were artificially selected hundreds or thousands of years ago based precisely on their capacity to be trained, whether as sheepdogs, hunting dogs or something else,” Sarah Jeannin, a dog behavior expert at the Université Paris Nanterre who was not involved in the new study.
Dr. Jeannin disputed the stereotype that dogs are closer to humans than cats. “People say that dogs are a man’s best friend, that you can trust them and that they are very loyal. But we don’t know what dogs actually think,” she said. “It’s really just projection by us that dogs are in love with us.”
First of all, I would expect this from a French person. If someone would have read me this quote and not told me who said it, I would have followed with, “This is ridiculous. What are they? Parisian?”
With that unpleasantness out of the way, Dr. Jeannin has clearly not read the studies involving dogs, owners and their oxytocin levels. You can find one here. You can find another here. You can find more.
The only reason we can’t say with certainty that our dogs literally “love” us is because they cannot form sentences like, “I am jumping up and down and marking when I see after you’re gone because I love you so much.”
But anyone who’s ever been loved by a dog knows: your dog loves you totally and unconditionally. And no dog lover needs to measure oxytocin levels to know that with every fiber of their being.
I once took in a stray cat that I ended up loving dearly. It was heart-rending when I was in the room with him as Frank the stray cat took his last failing-kidney breaths.
But I was never quite sure that Frank loved me because the only overt behavioral act he regularly displayed toward me was that he always pissed in my shoes and nobody else’s. “You know,” I’d say to my roommates, “I think Frank might be warming up to me because he hasn’t shit in my slippers for two weeks.”
So there, Dr. Jeannin. Take your anti-dog, pro-cat fake news and keep it where it belongs. In France. Which hates perros and has a sad bias in favor of gatos.
Actually, I think that might be Spanish.
But you get the picture.