Are Dogs Loyal?

adjective: loyal
  1. giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person or institution.
    “he remained loyal to the government”
    synonyms: faithful, true, devoted;

Are dogs loyal to humans?

Some dogs are.  I think many aren’t.  I think people have this idea in their head that dogs are such pure and good beings that they forgive us our indiscretions, love us unconditionally, and other such garbage.  Yes, I said it, that’s garbage.

Dogs are animals.  With their own needs, wants, feelings.  If those aren’t met, most will do what they can independent of our human needs, wants, feelings to meet them.

For example, I’ve met a tremendous number of dogs who dislike being touched.  Who shun their owners.  Who ignore that their owners really want to touch them, sit with them, etc.  Tremendous number of dogs who when life gets stressful walk away.  Who when their owner is feeling sick or down, the dog is no where to be found.  Only when the owner returns to ‘normal’ does the dog want to interact.  I’ve met dogs who don’t trust their owners, I’ve met dogs who when on deaths door will refuse to eat for their owner yet take food from near strangers.  And that’s completely fine!  Sure the owners feel emotionally hurt and tell me, “But I feel like he/she doesn’t love me.”  Maybe the dog doesn’t love you in the way you imagined a dog would display love towards you, but does that mean he doesn’t love you?  Maybe the dog doesn’t love you, but do you love her in the way she needs?

Are those dogs loyal?  Is loyalty a one way street?

So many people have this idea of Lassie or Rin Tin Tin, forgetting that those were characters.  Fictitious constructs.  Characters played by actors.  Yes the actors were animals, but they were still actors.  Lassie wasn’t real.  Rin Tin Tin doesn’t exist.  Heck Lassie was played by a string of male collies!  In the story line Lassie is female.  Sure there are dogs that might look like Lassie or Rin Tin Tin as they are collies or german shepherd dogs.  Who might be trained to such a high degree, and have such a great working relationship with their handler or owner that they act very close to such.  But Lassie and Rin Tin Tin are still imaginary creatures.  Dogs don’t usually act like them without a lot of outside support.

Are my dogs loyal?

Tom in harness lying in the green grass panting

Tom I would say very much yes.  Tom is loyal to me.  Sometimes people joke at me they are going to steal him from me.  I tell them, “Good luck.  Go ahead and try.”  Tom won’t even go outside to toilet with my husband, who he adores.  He can’t be bribed with steak.  We’ve tried.  If I’m not present, Tom will constantly face the direction I walked away ignoring all else until I return including food, toys and attention from others.  If I’m too sick to get out of bed, he won’t leave my side until I’m able to get up and take him outside.  If he’s on lead and I need to move away from him, I have to tell him to down stay before I hand his leash to a trusted friend or family member or else Tom will drag them with all of his might to follow me, and when he puts his mind to getting to me Tom is really really strong.  If a door or gate happens to be open that isn’t supposed to be open, Tom finds me and then shows me what is amiss.  So yes, I’d say Tom is loyal to me to a near fault.  Tom will forgo meeting his own needs do a degree in the face of mine.  Meaning I have to be really conscious of that and often modify what I’m doing to ensure his needs are met in the best way possible.

Zora, now her Zora trusts me.  But is she loyal to me?  As long as I’m doing a good job meeting her needs in the way she needs then I’d say sure, she’ll be loyal to me.  I read an article recently about some court case where 2 parties were fighting over a dog.  The judge decided to “let the dog decide” by having each party call the dog and see who the dog went to.  I thought this was ridiculous and stupid, and highly unlikely to be a true test of a dog’s loyalties.  My husband and I joked that if we put Zora in such a situation, she’d probably go to him when he called in part because of the recall game we play a lot with her, but then when I walked away and she had to stay with him, she go, “Wait wait!!  No no no!!  I didn’t know what I was choosing, what was a stake!  I want her back!!” as I am the one in our relationship that actively meets the majority of Zora’s daily needs.  But if the chips were down and it was a matter of her choosing between meeting her own needs and meeting mine, I’m fairly certain in most situations she’d work to meet her needs over mine.

In my experience, I’d say Tom is an atypical dog.  Zora is much more typical of the average dog.  Tom is really one of the most non dog like dogs I know.  Yet he’s the dog that so many people seem to have in their heads as ordinary.  He’s not.  Zora is more ordinary in terms of where her loyalties lie.  Like for many people, it’s take care of Zora first, then go down the line.

Do you feel your dog is loyal to you?  Why?  Or how so?

via Daily Prompt: Loyal

0 thoughts on “Are Dogs Loyal?

  1. Like you, I have one older dog who would be loyal to me till death do us part. The other one, a teenager…not so much. Perhaps it’s an age thing. Perhaps my younger dog will turn out to loyal in the end, but I don’t think so. Every dog is different and every dog has a different relationship with his owner.

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