Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What a Dog Knows: Canine Empathy

Faolan used to be fearful and demonstrate several "reactive" behaviors.  Over the last 2.5 years he has blossomed into a sweet, social boy who only occasionally demonstrates fearful behaviors.

I recently attended the Great Indy Pet Expo with a dear friend of mine, and took Faolan with me.  My friend, Debbie, has actually known Faolan longer than me, as she has long been associated/works for the shelter I adopted him from.  He is actually the reason we are friends.

Little boy did fantastic, although there were a couple of occasions in which I could tell he was overwhelmed.  On these occasions, we took a quick break from the throngs of people so that he could decompress.

He is always excellent with children, but sometimes a bit pushy, meaning he uses his nose to seek attention from them.

We were approached by many people, asking about him, asking to pet him, which is not unusual.

A man and his approximately 10 year old son with special needs were cautiously approaching us, so I spoke up and told them hello.  The man asked about Faolan, the usual questions-"What is he?" "Where is he from?"  "May we pet him?"

I answered them-"He's a mutt, a shelter special."  "He is from Greenfield-Hancock Animal Management."  "Of course you can pet him, he loves everyone."

What happened next brought tears to my eyes.  Faolan very gently curved into the boy, who then leaned over Faolan.  (That always makes me uncomfortable, with any dog, but that is another post for another day.)  Faolan gave him the gentlest of kisses, and then went belly up at the boy's feet.

I stood talking to the father for a few minutes, and the whole time Faolan was lying at the boy's feet.

He knew to be gentle with him.

Neeko is my girl, my princess.  But she does not seem to be particularly empathetic to my emotions, and neither does Bruce.  Faolan does.  He seems to sense when I am having a bad day, and is a subdued, gentle version of his sometimes obnoxious self.

I have not come home in the best of moods the last couple of days.  His usual greeting to me is excited, joyous, and occasionally jumpy.  These days he has greeted me with a deep look, a gentle lean, and a non demanding head on my lap.  It is just what I need.


  1. Loves this post. Both Faolan are you are so lucky to have found each other.

  2. How sweet of Faolan. Beamer cowers at people with signs of mental issues, so we tend to avoid them.

  3. Ah wow! that was a wonderful feel good post! I just love how some dogs can sense things like this. I agree though, that not every dog does this. It just amazes me to see the ones who do. Thank you for sharing!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  4. WE loved this post, and could picture exactly what sweet faolan had done for the boy. Than kyou for sharing this. We stay close to our momma and her rough days also.
    stella rose

  5. That is so sweet, what a wonderful boy he is.


Thanks for the howls!!