When I was a toddler, I had my first interaction with a dog and a cat. My first memory is how they got along, and that left me with the realization that “fighting like cats and dogs” is just a saying with little to back it up. Of course, if a dog is raised in a home sans cat, and they come upon one when outside, their instinct would be to chase it, especially if said cat runs. But if dogs are brought up with a cat or cats in their lives, they can become best friends.
The other day I was watching the news channel where they display three or four lines of information, and read that a study had been done (obviously funded) to study whether or not dogs get jealous. Really? What a waste of money if ever there was one. Anyone who has two dogs and pets one while the other watches will tell you absolutely, the other will get jealous. We have two dogs, Lara whom we’ve had since she was nine weeks of age, and Brodee, whom we adopted when Lara was a year old, for a brother/playmate/companion. Whenever Lara is near my husband or myself and we give her attention, Brodee is right there like a dirty shirt pushing his head under the hand which is petting Lara so he can get the attention. The same is true when we are petting Brodee, and Lara is watching; she will come over and waggle her little nub, look at us with her sad, beautiful brown eyes and we know she feels left out.
Another case in point is when some families try out their parenting skills on a dog, and once convinced it’s a walk in the park (pun intended), they decide to have a baby. Unfortunately, some then forsake the dog, which was once treated like a baby, and now dote only on the newcomer/interloper. The dog in this instance is shoed away from the baby, as he/she is now considered unhygienic and a threat to the health of the baby. These new parents give all the attention to the baby and treat the dog, who was there first, as a nuisance, now in the way, and little time or attention is given to the dog. Of course this poor dog will be jealous and as they aren’t able to discern that it is the adults fault and not the newborn’s, they only see this baby as the one who is new and stealing said dog’s limelight, love and attention.
Something else I’ve noticed with some dog owners is they treat their dogs, especially small ones, like children, in that they put the dog in a pram rather than realizing all dogs need exercise, just as do humans. They dress the dogs in outfits, which in spring and summer makes the dog very hot, and don’t recognize that dogs can’t understand more than a few words and need to be trained. I met a woman who hadn’t trained her dog, and didn’t have him on a leash and thus went onto the street. She picked up the dog and began hitting him. I was so tempted to do unto her as she was doing unto her dog, but tried to make her understand that dogs don’t understand unless you spend time training them. This woman had a very thick European accent and I wanted to make her understand that just as she had to learn how to speak English by taking lessons, so must she teach her dog, not with smacks, but with patience and repetition. Until then, she needs to keep her dog leashed to ensure he doesn’t get hit by an oncoming vehicle due to her negligence. Some people feel leashes are cruel, but isn’t it more cruel to end a dog’s life when they are in their prime, either by them being killed or rendered crippled and can no longer walk, run or play and is in constant pain?
Just as people need to learn about parenting their offspring, they also need to learn how to train a dog and how to love a dog, but all the while still appreciating that dogs need to be dogs, to be integrated with other dogs when puppies , to be allowed to run but in a safe environment like a leash-free park, and need to be trained at an early age to do the things expected of them. That said, training must be done with patience, repetition and love, not with beatings, or when housebreaking them, by shoving their nose into their waste and then being tossed most unceremoniously outside and kept there, alone for hours. Dogs are social creatures, and must be around others, both bipedal and quadrapedal . Maybe if people put themselves in the place of a dog and thought how they’d feel if they lived among only dogs and a human came along, and they were yanked away, not allowed to socialize, play or even greet the other human, how would they feel?
So funding a study to find out if dogs get jealous, have feelings, feel pain is a waste of money. Instead, why don’t these people put that money to better use by adopting a dog, or better still, two dogs, train them, sit back and watch how they interact. They will learn more than any study could ever conclude.