How Do Dogs Know?


In April 2020, when my dad passed away, it was obvious his dog Bella knew. I wondered then how she knew. A few days ago, we lost my father-in-law. J and I spent yesterday with his mom, trying to help her with arrangements and things. They have 5 dogs, one of whom is decidedly my father-in-law’s dog. The dog’s name is Benji. For the time my in-laws have had Benji, he has wanted nothing to do with me. Absolutely nothing. There have even been a few times when I’ve been giving treats to the others that he has snubbed me.

After we got in the house and everyone found seats, several of the dogs swarmed me, which is par for the course. Usually I give a couple of scratches and they go about their business. Not yesterday. Most incredibly though, Benji came to me yesterday and jumped up next to me on the couch and snuggled into me. Later he moved into my lap and spent much of the day curled up in my lap (he’s a shih-tzu/Pomeranian mix, so small enough to curl up in my lap) or snuggled in close to my legs.

Lola is an intuitive dog. She “knows” when things are wrong with someone in the house whether it be a migraine or an emotional pain and she acts accordingly. When they called J to the hospital on Wednesday night, Lola wanted me with her as we waited for news (we were all in our pajamas and I didn’t get changed fast enough to go with J to the hospital). She lay curled up, touching me, something Lola rarely does… touching for long periods of time makes her hot, so she prefers to have plenty of space between herself and something else that produces body heat. But Wednesday night, she lay right next to me for several hours and when J got home, she continued to lay in bed, but she switched from lying next to me to lying next to J. She ended up sleeping that way for more than four hours, which for Lola is an eternity especially while she’s sleeping.

When we got home late Thursday afternoon, Lola walked over and put her head in my lap and just let it sit there for several minutes, as if she were trying to comfort me. She did the same to J. She just knew there was something wrong with us.

My father-in-law has had some serious health problems over the years and has spent long stretches in the hospital before. In the past when my father-in-law hasn’t been home, Benji and the others have patiently waited for him to return, sitting on the back of furniture so they can watch out the window for him. Yesterday, there was none of that. How did Benji know this time was somehow different? I got the impression Benji wanted comfort from me and I acted accordingly, making sure to give him extra attention, including letting him curl up in my lap. Moments like these, I wish I had the device Dug wore in Up, so I would know what dogs were thinking.

2 thoughts on “How Do Dogs Know?

  1. Pups feel our pain and worry. No doubt about it. They also mourn for lost loved ones. When they comfort you, you are also giving them comfort in return. I’m am so sorry for your family’s loss. Hugs to all.

    Liked by 1 person

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