Friendship between humans and animals?

"I know this is going to seem strange but I have been contemplating on the relationship between humans and animals (just saw life of Pi which stimulated these thoughts) can people share a friendship with a animal? For example does my pet dog feel any feeling towards me? If I were to die or be in pain would it be sad? Does my dog understand that I care for it? Do we share, on some level a friendship? 

Or does my dog simply see me as somone who gives her food and comfort? 

Any thoughts would be great, this is really jus a question for discussion and speculation thanks!"

Answers (6)

kiras 24-02-2013
kiras - University of Cambridge
Dogs definitely do share emotions both with their owners and their other canine or feline companions in the home. You have I'm sure seen the many heroic stories of dogs rescuing their owners in emergency situations such as housefires. And they also bark at other dogs and people even when you're outside of the home such as a park, because they're protecting you, not your property. They feel sadness when you're angry at them, which is why when they've done something they know is bad, they hang their head or hide in another room much like a child would. My dog Gwen notified my Mom that her dog Baby had passed away by howling and crying in the backyard until my Mom came to see what was wrong. Gwen was laying beside Baby weeping. They were not related. My cat Stevie meowed very loudly for weeks after my dog Gwen passed away. She constantly came up and just looked at me as if asking where her friend was, and she was uncharacteristically more loving towards me. My new dog Lucy is extremely emotionally attached to me after being in a shelter all her life. She doesn't just follow me around, she jumps up in bed and tries to snuggle with me like a toddler. She looks at me like I'm the only person in the world. She also puts herself in between me and other dogs and people if we're walking when it's dark out, as if she's ready to throw down to protect me, her friend. Dogs wag their tails or come running anytime you say even one syllable of their name, because they are just so excited that you love them too. It is definitely a philosophical question you have asked, and also scientific. Of course they enjoy that we feed them and give them a place to stay, but they do in fact have an emotional connection to us, their best friends, just as we have those emotions towards them :)
sarmistha 11-04-2013
sarmistha - Chennai Mathematical Institute
The emotions or even conduct of friends; the state being friends

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