Case in point: a grainy video posted on YouTube that captured the image of a scruffy terrier running onto a busy highway in Chile to rescue another dog, hit moments earlier, by a car. As vehicles whiz by the terrier, he instinctively wraps his paws around the injured dog, dragging him off the road to safety.
"When you look at that sort of example, again, you see that these dogs are thinking and feeling creatures, and that sets the stage for grief," she said.
Through her research, King has found that in households with two dogs who've lived together for a number of years, some owners report that when one dog dies, the other gets depressed. Skeptics might point to a change in daily routine as the cause of depression or, perhaps, because the owner is upset and grieving. But King feels differently.
"The surviving dog is searching around the house for a lost companion -- looking in favorite places, going to places that they spent with their friend, very pointed actions that tell you the dog is missing his friend," she said.
In an effort to understand what dogs are thinking, researchers at Emory University in Atlanta are conducting brain scans of dogs using functional MRI (fMRI).
Gregory Berns, director of the Emory Center for Neuropolicy and lead researcher on the project, hopes their work will reveal secrets of the dog-human relationship, from the dog's perspective.
Even with high-tech tools, though, determining whether canines experience grief would be tough, he admitted, because he believes it's unknown how grief looks in the human brain. If it were known, however, Berns said researchers could then look for this emotion in the dog but it would require showing pictures, perhaps movies, of the deceased human or canine.
"It would be fascinating to figure out," said Berns, who normally uses fM
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