You see the clickbait headlines that say things like “She had cancer and what her dog did will make you melt” or “His dog knew he was dying and what happened will break your heart” and, as emotionally manipulative as they are, they’re also sort of accurate.
Dogs can sense when we’re grieving, when we’re ill and, yes, even when we’re dying. That’s what hospice veterinarian Dr. Jessica Vogelsang has learned from her own practice — and from her experience with her own animals, Global News reports via the Associated Press.
When Vogelsang’s mother, Patricia Marzec, moved in with her, she noticed the way her Golden Retriever responded. Marzec had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and Brody became her constant four-legged companion, comforting her in every way he could.
“He knew Mom was sick. He was with her 24-7,” Vogelsang told the AP. “He was trying not to be too obvious, but Dad was on one side and he was on the other.”
Dr. Bonnie Beaver, the executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, is not surprised by Brody’s behavior. She told the news organization that dogs are incredibly sensitive to human emotions and keen readers of body language.
“They recognize fragile, slumped over, not moving as well,” Beaver said. “That’s how they read each other. … They are great at it, and we are not.”
And thank goodness they are.