When it comes to canines, it seems the old proviso about dogs being man’s best friend works both ways.
Human beings are both friend to, and staunch champion and defender of, our finest and most cherished four-legged companion.
In fact, dogs currently enjoy an unprecedented level of preeminence if commerce is any sort of an indicator — their care is a multi-billion industry.
Some might even argue that the balance of power has shifted with dogs calling all the shots — my shih tzu Ned, also known as ‘Dear Leader,’ enjoys roughly the same level of authority and privilege at home as Kim Jong Un wields in North Korea.
So if you find yourself dry-eyed when Bruce Willis takes one to the heart but tear up when the dog gets it, you’re not alone.
A recent study at Northeastern University confirms that we feel more empathy for the suffering of dogs than we do for adult humans, according to an article on The Huffington Post.
Our sympathy levels for dogs are on emotional par with the empathy we feel for children under duress.
The study tracked the responses of 240 men and women between 18 and 25 who were asked to read individual fictitious stories about a baby, an adult male, a puppy and an adult dog being beaten and then rank their emotional response in each case.
Dogs, puppies and babies came out on top with the least sympathy being extended to the adult male victim, which is not so surprising when you think about it.
We are emotionally compelled by the helplessness of dogs, suggest the researchers. Like children, they are seen as being in need of our care and protection. We feel effectively, “charged” with their wellbeing.
For those of you in the habit of lamenting the state of human compassion when the plight of a dog takes precedence over the problems that beset the middle-aged guy next door, try to see it from another perspective.
Our desire to protect the least powerful and the helpless among us, regardless of the species, does us credit and reinforces the best of what makes us human.
In a tough spot, at least the guy next door has a good shot at taking care of himself. Chances are if you care about what happens to his dog, you’ll care about him too.
Can you relate to the above? Share with us in the comment section below