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I'm not sure this will make any sense, but I will try to explain what I mean....

We lost our oldest, most awesome cat Thomas this morning. It was very sudden (heart failure due to a heart murmur we think), we got up to find him dead and of course we were very upset.

I realised I was unable to go and move him, so hubby called his dad to come and wrap him and move him. While we were waiting I decided I should at least clean up the urine around him. Pixie still hadnt' been out to pee, and despite me walking from the kitchen with paper towards the door to the backyard, she didn't follow me as usual to go outside. She just sat in the kitchen and watched me clean up. She didn't go over to sniff Thomas or anything. It was like she knew I was upset and she knew Thomas was dead and just kept her distance. On walks she always approaches dead animals.

So I did that, then went to my office to let Obi out of the crate to take them both out to pee. As soon as Obi spotted Thomas he ran straight up to him and started sniffing, he was told to leave it and we went outside.

Later on I also noticed that Pixie was staring at me a lot more than usual and seemed to understand that I was upset, while Obi seemed completely oblivious.

Pixie is a poodle x maltese, so typical lapdog, people oriented etc, while Obi is a terrier x. So just curious, and this is where I think I won't make sense, are lapdogs and the typical working breeds like poodles, labs, GSD's etc, more in tune with their humans than the more independent breeds? Like are they more sensitive to it, do they understand human stuff better? I hate to call it "empathy", but if I was going to use that word, do the working breeds and lapdogs have more empathy?

Just for the record, I'm not upset with Obi for not "caring", I never expected them to understand or care and I don't need them to. It was just something I noticed and was curious about.
 

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Makes sense to me, although it could just be the individual dogs. I know Sydney isn't the type to "comfort" as some people on here describe their dogs doing. If I'm sick, in a bad mood, sad etc, she doesn't try to cuddle or anything like that. She generally tries to stay away as though she finds it uncomfortable to be around me. She's likely a terrier/hound mix so that sounds pretty in line with your theory.

I'm sorry about the loss of your cat. He was lovely. It's never easy to lose a pet but hopefully you can take comfort in the fact that he went peacefully at home. :hug:
 

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I'm sorry about Thomas. He was a very pretty boy.

This showed up on my FB today: http://www.dogster.com/the-scoop/study-says-dogs-feel-our-pain?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+DogsterForTheLoveOfDogBlog+(Dogster+For+The+Love+of+Dog+Blog)

I'm not sure how much stock I'll place in a study that only used 18 dogs but it does make you wonder. Kaki is ALWAYS watching me. If I'm in a pissy mood, she'll hide in the other room and poke her head out of the door just enough to stare at me. I always thought that she treated any of mood that can be classified as negative the same way. But there is a difference in the way she acts when I'm angry vs. when I'm crying or sad. She throws all kinds of appeasement behaviors either way but she goes into more of an avoidance mode when I'm angry. If I cry, she will ever so slowly slink up to me.
 

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First ... I am so sorry about your loss of Thomas. RIP little one.



Leeo and Blu Boy have always been more in tune with my emotions. Abbylynn only responds to my not-so-good moods by staying clear of me. She has never offered to "comfort" me since Leeo's passing. So I know she feels my emotions but only responds to my angry ones ... but that could be because it hardly ever happens and is scary when it does?

But the two Schnauzer/Poodles have always shown more "comforting qualities" ... if that is what you want to call it? ... not sure what to call it. Empathy?

When my Mother was dying Leeo stuck to her like glue ... and he was my dog? I am not sure what to call that either? Was he having empathy for her because he knew she was not feeling well?

When Leeo passed Blu Boy was up in my face for a long while ... and still is pretty much overly attentive of me ... although maybe he too is still wondering where his Brother went ... if that is even possible? Maybe he is seeking "comfort" from me?

This subject is very interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thing is, I think generally Obi is the one that is more focused on me. He follows me everywhere and wants to be involved just for the sake of being involved. Like if I'm getting glasses and plates from other rooms, he runs ahead of me and sticks his head in the dishwasher just waiting for me. And when I get bird seed to go out to the aviary he runs ahead and waits by the aviary door. There's never anything in it for him, I never talk to him or pat him or anything, he just wants to be there.

But as far as "empathy" goes, I think Pixie has more of it. She seems to understand human emotions better in general.

Could just be the individual dogs, so it's interesting to see other people's experiences.

And yeah, I'm pretty sad about Thomas. Earlier I was running on adrenaline and disbelief. Now I'm just sad. He really was an awesome cat, not the smartest, but big personality, lots of charm and very friendly. One of a kind.
 

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I'm very sorry for you loss, he looks like a very handsome boy.

As others have said, don't know if it's more of an individual dog thing or what, but Luke is a golden/lab mix and he is so in tune to my emotions. Good, bad, sad, mad, it's like he always know what I'm feeling and how to respond. He is very attentive to me no matter where we are or what we are doing. Zoey, on the other hand, it a houndish something mix, and so self-involved lol. "Oh you're sad, nothing in that for me, I'll just chew my bone." She's a no nonsense type girl, if it isn't benefiting her, she's not very interested. She also isn't too big into people though either. She will greet someone new, say hello for about 10 seconds then go on her merry way with whatever. Luke will sit basking in attention for hours if you let him!
 

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Poor Thomas :( I'm sorry for your loss, I woke up when I was 19 to find my childhood dog, sugar dead at the foot of my bed... I had had her since I was 7 yrs old :((. So I can understand how you feel.

When Izze died, josefina's demeanor changed imediately. She was normally an unruly, 'never do the right thing' type, but after her death she became like.... The perfectly behaved dog & although as I 'moved on' somewhat (you never really get over it) she isn't the hellion she use to be.
 

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Muggsy, my GSDxGolden Retriever, was very in tune with me. He would lean against me when i was sad. He would even offer me his favorite toy when the pain from my joints was bad.

Kabota, my beaglexborder collie (maybe) isn't terribly in tune with me, nor does he appear to be interested in that. But, I've had him 6 months, and he spent the first 3-4 years of his life receiving almost no human attention.
 

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One day when Izze was still alive I had a particularly bad migraine & went to I went to bed & slept til dark, OH brought the dog in (it was only one dog at the time, Izze). I was asleep but OH said that she went to the side of the bed I usually laid on & I wasn't there she went to the other side of the bed where I was & rested her head on the bed next to my head & OH (who was sitting in the other room eating dinner) was watching & he said she left it there for a long time he said like 5-10 minutes before finally laying down in her 'place' (the rug in front of the TV).

We had a unusual connection that I know will never be again wih another dog bc there was only one Izze :(. But it doesn't mean that I can't form another equally strong (but different connection) with another dog like Buddy, of course it's not the same, he isn't Izze (being the same breed doesn't make him 'like her') but that doesn't mean he doesn't love me or that I don't love him.

I have always been one to offer empathy & understanding (if they had fears of are nervous about something, I think that kind of attitude reflects itself, show a dog empathy & you will be repaid tenfold.
 

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lil_fuzzy, I am very sorry about Thomas' passing. He was a beautiful cat.

I think that empathy is an individual thing among dogs. Max was a wildman when I brought him home. Definately a project. He and I connected amazingly fast and he always looked out for me. I am severely visually disabled. When out walking instead of skirting around objects in our path Max would lean into me to move me away from the object that was in our way. If I was sick he had to be pulled away from my side to go out to relieve himself. If I was watching a sad movie he would get up from lying at my feet and put his head in my lap. If I watched a scary movie and the dumb girl was starting down the stairs in the dark where she was going to get it Max must have sensed my aprehension and would jump up looking around and growling.
 

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Here is an excerpt from an article about the subject of 'dog feelings' located at: http://mobile.dudamobile.com/site/dogbreedinfo_1?url=http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/articles/dogsenses.htm#2113

Another example was a time when my husband and I were driving down the road with our two dogs in a van that did not have any windows in the back. The dogs were sleeping on the van floor. Suddenly our Pit Bull stood up and started growling. I was in the passenger seat and didn’t see or hear anything. My husband, on the other hand, was amazed. He had just passed a cop and for a split second thought he may have been speeding and at the exact moment he felt a chill of fear run down his spine, his dog had popped up from his curled up sleep and growled, not at us but toward the walls of the moving van. The dog had felt his fear and was jumping up in protection mode.

Izze was really good at sensing my moods, she would go into a heightened state of protection if I was feeling uneasy about a part of town we were in & if she didn't like someone, then I trusted her.
 

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I'm so sorry about Thomas - he sure was handsome! I lost 2 cats to cancer over the last 4 years, and they, like Thomas, liked to lie in and play in bags (probably like all cats?) In any case, I hope they're all 3 playing together in bags over Rainbow Bridge now.

As far as empathy, I don't know. Hobbes definitely understands human moods and will respond to them, but he doesn't really offer "comfort". He'll slink away and offer appeasement behaviors if me or DH is angry (in which case we immediately feel bad for scaring him which is a nice way to dispel the situation). But I'm not sure he notices or cares if I'm sad. He's a mix (assuming Lab/Pit/? but who really knows?) if that's useful.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Here is an excerpt from an article about the subject of 'dog feelings' located at: http://mobile.dudamobile.com/site/dogbreedinfo_1?url=http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/articles/dogsenses.htm#2113

Another example was a time when my husband and I were driving down the road with our two dogs in a van that did not have any windows in the back. The dogs were sleeping on the van floor. Suddenly our Pit Bull stood up and started growling. I was in the passenger seat and didn’t see or hear anything. My husband, on the other hand, was amazed. He had just passed a cop and for a split second thought he may have been speeding and at the exact moment he felt a chill of fear run down his spine, his dog had popped up from his curled up sleep and growled, not at us but toward the walls of the moving van. The dog had felt his fear and was jumping up in protection mode.

Izze was really good at sensing my moods, she would go into a heightened state of protection if I was feeling uneasy about a part of town we were in & if she didn't like someone, then I trusted her.
That's pretty cool. Obi does something similar and I never know how he knows. If I'm sitting at my computer staring at the screen, he will know instantly if I glance over at him. No matter what he's doing, rolling around, rubbing his face on his bed, asleep, he will instantly turn to look at me if I glance over at him. I have no idea how he detects me looking at him.
 

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That's pretty cool. Obi does something similar and I never know how he knows. If I'm sitting at my computer staring at the screen, he will know instantly if I glance over at him. No matter what he's doing, rolling around, rubbing his face on his bed, asleep, he will instantly turn to look at me if I glance over at him. I have no idea how he detects me looking at him.
This too ^ .... ^ .... ^.... is something I have noticed .... strange. :/

When Leeo was in the hospital ... and I went to visit him ... I tried to hide my emotions of sadness and fear the best I could. The one day I had been just holding him in my arms and talking to him ... on my lap for about an hour ... and his nurse came to retrieve him for his pain meds ... I believe he clearly knew I did not want to let him go. I believe he felt the fear I was feeling as if I would never see him again that day. He growled and showed his teeth at the person who had been taking such good care of him for a week ... he would not allow her near him ... and it took her by surprise. He had been up until then ... the perfect patient.
 

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When I was around 15 my Lab, dixie girl, was very in tune to my emotions "empathetic". Their was a neighbor boy that was very rude and annoying but would always come around, and she just knew the moment my mood would change and would get very protective and get between me and that boy and if I tried to get around her so I could get tell him to leave she would always stand in the way. Maybe just protective, but its like she knew I didn't like him and he made me angry so she tried to keep me away from him as best she could. Best dog in the world. Got her when I was 11 lost her at 22.
 

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Since I go against the crowd.... Labs and poodles are hunting dogs, so they are bred to be very alert to people, and I'd expect them to see subtle emotions changes that even other people might miss.

Moreover, they have a terrific sense of smell, and might detect something that we can't smell...

I'd call that empathy...
 

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I am so sorry for your loss of Thomas. :hug: His raggedy ears tell a tale of a cat's life lived, eh? :fencing:

An interesting study recently looked at the subject of empathy between dogs and humans. It seems to support the idea, with typically conservative scientific reserve.

Tons of anecdotal evidence can't be completely ignored, either. I don't think it's at all unlikely that we two species, having co-evolved from our wilder roots, would have also evolved means of communicating that bridge our lack of a verbal shared language. Dogs senses are complimentary to human senses; together, we make a stronger unit than apart. To live and work together successfully, it makes sense that we would evolve to key into each other deeply, maybe in ways that don't make it to verbal or conscious parts of our more recent brain development.

That said, of the 6 dogs I've lived with in my life, my little poodle was the only one I'd say really showed any empathy when I felt bad. Everyone is always up for a party, it seems :dance: but at least my sighthounds all pretty much ignore everything else, or maybe try to overwhelm my own feelings with their own. That would be hard to determine! :lol:
 
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