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Dogs and "empathy"

2380 Views 32 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  XansArt
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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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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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.
I remember the posts about Izze, so sorry :(

At feeding time I always catch myself thinking "where's Thomas?" because he's not eating with the others, and at night when we let some of them in I think "must let Thomas in so he doesn't get cold". Etc. Then I remember.
It takes a while for it to all sink in. Sometimes I think it is our way of denying it happened. I honestly feel we sometimes subconsciously do not want to believe it has happened. There are many stages that go along with death and acceptance.

I too still go to bed some nights and just as I am dozing off ... see Leeo coming around the corner of the bed to jump in with me. :(
Then I wake suddenly to a start. Even when awakening in the mornings ... he seems to always be the first thing on my mind ... still.

The feelings you are going through are complex and will probably be there for a while. I don't think we ever quite get over our loved ones death(s) completely whether it be human or our beloved pet(s).

Again ... I am so very sorry about Thomas.
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