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You love your dog with a devotion that may rival how you feel about any person. But does your dog feel the same way about you? When your dog gazes up at you adoringly, is that genuine dog devotion, or is he simply wondering when you'll serve him his next meal? If you ever wonder if those doggy kisses and cuddles are simply meant to butter up his meal ticket, don't worry. The bond you share with your dog is indeed mutual, and dog loyalty is very real.
Why Dogs Are So Loyal
Dogs are naturally loving and affectionate. Their pack animal nature makes it easy for dogs to develop strong bonds with those they perceive as members of their pack. But dogs don't just develop bonds to other dogs. A scroll through your Facebook feed on any given day will likely turn up videos showing dogs who've struck up friendships with all sorts of unlikely animals, including foxes, deer, tortoises, pigs, ducks, wild seals and river otters! And anyone who has a multi-species household knows that, far from being natural enemies, dogs and cats can be the best of friends. It's pretty clear that dogs are social animals, but the bond formed between dogs and humans seems to go a lot deeper than simply enjoying our company.
The Dog-Human Bond
The symbiotic relationship dogs have developed with humans — taking care of their physical needs in exchange for canine companionship — goes back several millennia and certainly plays a part in the bond humans share with dogs. But that doesn't explain the lengths a dog will go to for his human. Studies examining the dog-human relationship have found that over such a long time of living so closely with people, dogs have developed the ability to empathize with human beings, read our body language and facial expressions, and develop their own ways of communicating with us, says Psychology Today.
Shining Examples of Dog Devotion
It's easy to see how devoted your dog is when you come home after a long workday — or maybe just after running a quick errand — and your dog greets you at the door as if he hasn't seen you in ages and this is the best moment of his life. But what seems more amazing is the way dogs appear to not only remember us, but actively miss us during a long absence. You've no doubt seen the myriad Internet videos of dogs being reunited with their military humans after a long tour of duty — and you've also no doubt shed a tear or two as you've witnessed the joy each dog feels at the reunion. There's also story after story of lost dogs finding their ways home to their beloved families, sometimes trekking across several states to get there. A dog's devotion doesn't end with their owner's passing, either. More than one story has gone viral involving dogs standing vigil at their deceased owners' caskets or refusing to leave their grave sites.
But some dogs really go above and beyond to show their loyalty and devotion, even at the cost of their own safety. Recently, one golden retriever was hailed as a hero for saving her elderly owner from freezing to death after the man slipped and fell in the snow. The dog stayed with him, using her body to keep him warm and barking continually until help arrived, reports CBS News. Stories like these abound, showing that the bond of love and devotion between dogs and humans is a special one indeed.
Most Loyal Dog Breeds
Now you might be asking yourself if certain breeds are more loyal dogs. The truth is that all dogs are pack creatures and are devoted to whomever they see as their leader. So, while some breeds may seem more affectionate or willing to please their pet parent than others, all dogs are capable of being loyal. So, if you really want to know what the most loyal dog breeds are, just a take a look at, well, any of them! The important part for getting a dog that has unconditional love for you is to properly socialize him, spend time with him and shower him with lots of love. The more you show him love, the more likely he is to show it back to you. So the next time you look at your dog and see those adoring brown eyes gazing back at you, you can be certain that the love you perceive in his gaze is the real deal.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.