Right now, much research supports our belief that our animals experience a range of emotions, from joy and love, to fear, despair and grief. In the Journal of BioScience, Marc Bekoff supports this, and is currently promoting more in-depth research into animal behaviours!
Going even further, the journal Animal Cognition, has shown how dogs may be able to recognize when we feel disgust and happiness! When dogs were given gave a chance to choose between objects that their owners disliked and preferred, most tended to go for the ones associated with positive emotion. While our pets’ curiosity may sometimes override everything we say, it’s good to know that they do recognize how we react to them, and know when we shower them with affection! We definitely hope so when we see our shelter dogs smiling at us. ☺
We know dogs for being adorable and sweet, and they are truly man’s best friend, providing emotional support to adults and kids alike. In the US, dogs have been already been involved in supporting child witnesses in criminal cases, providing them with the comfort and safety needed to build the confidence to speak up!
On the other side of the justice system, inmate rehabilitation programmes revolving around dog training and fostering have played a role in helping both inmates and shelter dogs alike! In the US Omaha Correctional Centre, after strong screening for abuse and violence, inmates are given the opportunity to help foster dogs saved from high-kill shelters. The programme involves them with walking, feeding, and caring for dogs, and even obedience training to increase future adoptability! The compassion involved in it has shown to reduce aggressiveness in inmates, while the presence of the dogs gives participants a sense of security, which may help some to open up more, increasing chances of rehabilitation.
When we think of service dogs, the first thing that comes to mind are usually seeing-eye dogs. However, service animals can be trained for a great variety of tasks to help the disabled! They may be trained to turn the lights on and off for those who may not be able to, pick up dropped objects, and alert those hard of hearing to sounds (like alarm clocks) by pawing their owner’s foot. Some are also trained to help people with psychiatric disabilities suffering through trained deep pressure therapy, and interrupting repetitive behaviours. Dogs may also disobey commands that may endanger both itself and its owner outside!
A great insight into training service dogs can be seen through the American Kennel Club’s videos, and Instagram account @kinghenryofnashville, where his owner shares her experiences with personally training him, indoors and in public places. For us locally, The Guide Dogs Singapore, a non-profit organization, supports the blind and visually impaired in improving guide dog access in Singapore, and helps sponsor them to get the support that they need!
With these anecdotes, we hope to inspire a greater love for dogs, and the support that they can and do play in society! We love them very much, and we are sure you do too. ☺