Emotional support canine who needs support?

My brother and his wife recently adopted a beautiful Collie pup they named Gio (yes I’m proud to say he derives his name from Gio Remar, the merciless warden nicknamed Cerberus from my Boss trilogy.) Like most border collies he his incredibly intelligent. He is also affectionate and a lot of fun to have around.

Introducing a pup into any household always comes with its challenges. There is a lot of training involved. Gio has been taking to this like a duck to water. As I said, he is incredibly smart. He offers a warmth to the home only dogs can provide. I’ve always been more of a cat person. I know this will get all you dog lovers out there to scoff but I generally find dogs obnoxious. Whilst I would do them no harm I wouldn’t go out of my way to have one myself. This is the reason I keep guinea pigs instead. Gio has softened my opinion on this. He’s not even a year old yet and his instincts are sharp, his behaviour is impeccable and whilst he tends not to enjoy you lying on the sofa without being able to sleep on top of you he’s a brilliant animal.

I could see why those who seek emotional support would look to dogs for this purpose. They are pack animals so that caring instinct is deeply embedded (in most breeds). What happens when the dog is the one needing emotional support?

The last time I paid a visit to my brother’s house we were chatting as he was setting out Gio’s afternoon feed. The dog had grown impatient, bounded towards his bowl and knocked it from my brothers hand. As I said there is a lot of training and patience in taking in a pup. That wasn’t the issue. The mess could be cleaned and Gio would learn to sit and wait to be called. He got upset though. Yes you read that right. The dog got upset. I don’t mean the tail between the legs, ears dropped because he was being chastised kind of upset. I mean he sulked. He sulked so badly he wouldn’t eat the lunch he had been ravenous for only moments before this. Both my brother and I were astounded. The mess was fixed and we tried coaxing him to eat. He continued sulking. We had to speak to softly to him and assure him it was okay. The dog needed emotional support because he knocked over his own bowl.

In cartoons the animals are deliberately given facial expressions. In real life dogs have their own ways of telling you how they feel. Gio is so expressive. Being such an intelligent creature he feels his emotions. I guess he was disappointed in himself. Despite us assuring him it was okay he gave himself a time out on the stairs until he felt better or he saw my sister in law (his mummy).

This random musing on the dog had me thinking about our connection to animals and the natural world in general. It’s something we will never lose no matter how advanced we become and quite rightfully so. When getting to know Gio better it makes me realise how important our place on earth is. It’s something we shouldn’t take for granted.

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