Jan 13, 2014

10 ways humans and dogs are like each other

Dogs are great company, because we GET each other. That's because we're similar. All the things we love about dogs are things we enjoy in other humans, too. And the things we make fun of dogs for, we are guilty of as well.

Here are ten ways that dogs are like humans, or humans are like dogs:

1. We can't handle economic surplus.

Most humans can't, and you know it. How often, when you got a better paying job, did you think "I'm going to save the extra money". And how often did you actually do that?

Dogs also are of the "If there's extra, eat it all now!" life philosophy.  Sure, they'll bury a bone sometimes, just as humans will save money sometimes. But it doesn't happen every day.

2. We live for love.

We love our cats, but we kind of know they don't really love us back the same way. We love our dogs BECAUSE they love us back.

3. We get overly attached. But we can also (usually) move on when things change.

Dogs LOVE their owners. They will be very upset and will pine for their owners if they lose them. But in most cases, they will get over the loss and will form a new bond with a new owner, just as strong as the last. When I was a kid we had a black Labrador called George. He was the Best Dog Ever. He was loving, gentle, and smart. He loved us, especially my dad. When we moved to LA we had to give him away. He went to live with another family. A year later my dad went to visit him. He was overjoyed to see my dad, and gave him a warm slobbery welcome - and then went happily back to sit at the feet of his new dad.

Humans too, by and large, get over losing a partner and form an attachment to a new one. Which is as it should be.

4. We get jealous.

Another part of being suckers for love. We both get jealous when our special people cosy up to someone else.

5. We love ball games. (Well, when I say "we" I mean other humans, obviously)

Photo: invalid_argument/Flickr

Photo: NCReedplayer/Flickr

Mongolian ball game by Jeanne Menjoulet & Cie / Flickr

Photo: Jeff Shapiro / Flickr

Photo: Karah Levely-Rinaldi /Flickr

Photo: Russ Anderson / Flickr

Incidentally, there is a whole subset of photos on Flickr of people playing ball games next to signs that say NO BALL GAMES. I didn't realise so many public places banned ball throwing.

6. We like routine. 

Yes we do. Even though we also love adventure and recklessness, we crave and get comfort from routine. Whether we get up at the same time every day, sit in the same carriage on the train every morning, frequent the same few cafes, have a favourite chair, or read the same newspaper/visit the same sites every day, we are all attached to some level of routine.

Routine is a big part of what helps kids feel secure.

Routine is part of dogs' lives too.

When I get up in the morning, my dog Harry is a coiled spring, watching my every move and jumping up at me, until I put on my shoes and say "Do you want to go for a walk?" Then he goes briefly mental, cries with excitement, shivers in anticipation, and bolts for our very short (very short) run, and settles into our walk. When we get home he waits for his chewy treat, eats a mouthful of breakfast, laps up some water and flops down on the ground while I sit on a chair outside.

This morning routine is good for us both.  (And it's also keeping me on track for my January resolution).

7. We love the wind in our hair.

Photo: Anniruddha Sen Gupta/Flickr

Photo: Ko:(char*)hook/Flickr

8. We have been warped by our environments.

Humans have adapted very successfully to a range of environments, from the African steppes to the suburb-and-7-11. Unfortunately, we adapt in ways that don't help us, getting fatter and less fit where our environs allow it, unless we exert a lot of very difficult effort. And our canine friends get fat right along with us.  We have also bred our companions into all sorts of weird, wonderful and grotesque shapes, some of which are maladaptive (bulldogs that can't breathe, Alsatians with bad backs, tiny dogs that are too nervous to go out, huge dogs with short life spans). Our dogs now are further removed from wolves than we are from our hunter-gatherer ancestors. But we haven't had our best friends manipulating our gene pools for centuries; we've gone a bit slower on that on ourselves.

9. We both have a shame face.

You know that face politicians and sports people make in the news when they've been caught doing something wrong. Always this face:

Source unknown; thank you Internet!

That's not really a dog's shame face of course.

This is:

Photo: dogshaming.com

10. We both like trampolines!

Keep this video handy for next time you are feeling down.


  1. I love the dog photos with the guilty humans.

    I have never seen dogs on trampolines. What fun!

  2. Well thought out, well done, excellent post.

    I love dogs!

    1. Thanks so much Joe!
      I love dogs too, they're the best.

  3. #3, in 1990, we had to give away our 18 months old German Shepherd when we moved to a rental property, we heard later that he pined behind the couch for a few days, then settled in to the family and became the boss. I still miss him.

    1. Growing up we had to give three dogs away as we moved country. We missed each one for years, even as we loved the new one.



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