Dog's Best Friend
We've long considered doggo "man's best friend." But are we dog's best friend?
Are you Mr. Doggo's friend?
There are 2 requirements that must be fulfilled if you're to answer this question: whether or not Mr. Doggo is a dog or a human being. We'll go through each of them in detail. First, if you asked them "Are you my friend," they should respond positively. Second, you must trust that this life-form is honest in their response.
I've never thought I'd use pronouns cross-species like I did in that last paragraph
Requirement 1: If you asked, they'd respond positively
So how do you ask a dog if he's your friend? Well, you gotta be a bit creative about it. They don't speak English, after all. But they do seem to understand us in some weird way. You must ask them a question through your own actions, which they seem to have somewhat figured out. You must also interpret their response, which again, will be an action.
Of course, this question you ask should be designed to clue you in on the topic that we've decided to study.
One you could ask is: Do you miss me when I leave?
That's a pretty easy one. Anybody who's ever owned a dog knows this as an obvious yes. You can just see it in their face after a long day of work—how excited they are that you're back.
The non-believers among you might feel that it's because you're their source of food. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of evidence for that, though. My younger sister feeds our dog almost never. Doesn't stop her from getting kisses when she's back from university. Go buy an automated dog feeder. I guarantee it won't make a difference.
Scientists did an incredibly interesting study on this actually. They found that dogs knew when their owners were on their way home. They knew this even when the owners used different cars and came home at different times.
Another question you could ask: Do you care about my feelings?
Well, that's a yes too. If you've had a dog you'll notice how they respond to your emotions. How they'll come to see what's up when you're jumping about in excitement. How they come and sit and keep you company if you're sad. How they get agitated or upset when you're angry.
Scientists have measured this, too. Dogs apparently have a sense of smell 10,000 times that of humans (I feel like everybody knows this but w/e I'll cite it anyway) They smell so well they can smell our emotional states. But how do we know that means they actually care about us? Well that's a question for another day, but by all easily accessible means of research, I'd say the evidence seems promising.
Requirement 2: You must trust him
Weirdly enough, this is the more difficult requirement of the two. At first, you think, of course I trust my dog. But then some of us humans do a silly thing immediately after. We doubt ourselves. We say, I'm just imagining it or How could I trust a dog. What does that even mean?
Trust is a complicated enough concept when it applies to humans. When you trust somebody does it mean you trust that they'll do exactly what you ask of them? probably not. I think people who believe that have a bit of growing up to do. Does it mean you trust that they'll never tell you a lie? ehh, not quite. I, for one, don't mind being lied to from time to time when it's appropriate, especially if I trust the person.
My idea of trust is perhaps much closer to the idea of faith. Both concepts aren't limited to the will of other person—you have just as an important role to play. Trust, like faith, places critical responsibility on the observer to interpret the other entity's actions as optimistically as they can manage. They need to give them the benefit of doubt.
No, I'm not saying it's okay to be ignorant just to maintain a façade of trust. I'm saying the more you scrutinize every move—the harder you search for the possibility that they betrayed you, the more likely you are to find it. It's like your boss asking you to complete a project over a few days. 2 hours later he says "why hasn't [this insignificant detail] been completed yet?? I trusted you!"
Now Mr. Human—as the more intelligent and literate of the two beings in question—you have the responsibility of interpreting Mr. Doggo's actions. You are, by default, their esteemed ambassador to our human society. And, as mentioned, their actions are their only method of communication with the human race for the next couple thousand years. It's quite the responsibility. Don't be too hard on yourself though, they'll still love you regardless 😉