Friday, August 26, 2011

Hawkeye: A Navy Seal Hero's Dog & His Lesson of Loyalty

On so many emotional levels, one could not help but be moved by the picture of Navy Seal Jon Tumilson's  dog Hawkeye lying near the young hero’s coffin.

Viewing the haunting picture  made me again wonder the greatest of mysteries regarding animal behavior. Do animals have apparent human emotions as loyalty and love as displayed by Hawkeye.

Not ashamed to now admit, I believe animals most definitely display some degrees of human emotions.

After raising 5 dogs with my wife, I tend not to totally agree with Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan that dogs have no feelings and respond only to their environment as pack animals. (We have used some of Cesar's training techniques on one difficult dog. Cesar’s philosophy helped us train this most difficult dog in changing her most anti-social behaviors.)

Those of us who like---rather love ---our pets can relate to other animal owners with anecdotal stories about our furry friends’ antics.

Passionate animal lovers can find articles, books, and experts supporting our beliefs that animals are emotional beings.

Those who do not care for animals, will most definitely not relate to our stories and may think of animal lovers as mere nut cases (as I once did).  These skeptics can also find supporting books and experts arguing that animals are incapable of displaying human emotions.

Perhaps there is a bit of truth for both arguments by just looking at the human condition.

As humans, we have the most basic of animal instincts and needs: food, water, shelter, needs to procreate.

If compelled to live in an environment where only  basic needs can be met and there is a daily competition  to get these basic necessities, a person would not have the time to be creative and loving towards other humans outside his  immediate family or "pack. "

It would take a particularly noble starving person to hand his only morsel of food to another starving or thirsty human. As in the animal kingdom, people living in the most brutal of human living conditions would need to compete, sometimes with savage force to survive. There will be some humans who could not muster enough physical or intellectual stamina to compete and they would just die.

But humans who have all their basic needs met,  thrive and can afford to be creative, emotional,  and loving people.  

Perhaps the same goes for our domesticated friends.

In an environment that the basic needs are provided, domesticated  animals are perhaps allowed to emotionally mature and indeed have the luxury to be happy, sad, and loyal as they are not rummaging through garbage cans seeking out sources of food.

Is it not amazing that we are searching for intelligence in outer space that when perhaps, sitting right at our feet or licking our hands is one of the greatest of mysteries which needs to be more fully understood.

Recommended reading:
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Susan McCarthy
When Animals Weep, the Emotional Lives of Animals

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