From everything I read it seemed today was definitely a “dog’s day” of summer. Okay, actually just two things I read… Specifically two separate articles I stumbled on today happened to be about emotions in animals, including dogs. The first was a good article on TOR.com about a scientific study of emotions, specifically grief, in animals. The other article on Today.com discusses a study that has found that our dogs react to us in a way that is very similar to the way human children respond to their parents.
It is the first article that really intrigued me, and the second seemed only to back up what the first was saying. Sorrow in animals, the first study has shown, is a scientific fact. But what biological benefit does grief serve that it would evolve throughout the animal kingdom like it has? The answer it seems, as the TOR article puts it, is:
“…grief is a symptom of the real evolutionary benefit at work: love.”
So it is not that the emotion of grief serves a purpose, but that it occurs at the loss of a “loved” one. Remove one emotion, love, and its loss causes the other, grief. Animal love is “shared by two or more living animals whose level of cooperation in nurturing or resource-acquisition is enhanced by these feelings.” So the emotion of love (and it’s corollary) has evolved and has been passed down through our animal ancestors, and not erroneously or symbolically placed from us onto unfeeling creatures.
From my own experiences I have always known this to be so. It made sense to me from a logical stand point. Most people think assigning “human” emotions to animals anthropomorphized them. But to my mind, animal emotions seem to be “pure”. Animal emotions are not cluttered up by logic or attempts to rationalize what they are feeling. They just FEEL. So it seems to me instead of anthropomorphism, it is the other way around; we have ascribed the animal attribute of pure emotion onto humans, which I discovered would be called zoomorphism.