Think Dog Houses Keep Dogs Warm in Freezing Weather? You’re Wrong

by Seattle DogSpot

Dog Houses Aren’t Adequate in Freezing Weather

Last Friday I put up a post about a Yakima man and his family who were kicked out of their apartment because he reported to animal control that his landlord’s 14-year-old boxer had frozen to death.

The dog’s body had been laying outside its dog house and covered in snow for about 5 days.

The landlord kept the boxer outside on a short chain connected to its dog house 24/7. The temperature in Yakima stayed below freezing for about 10 days before the dog’s death. It was often below zero at night.

Since then I’ve seen a few discussions about whether or not dog’s should live outside, especially in the winter. Several people said that hay and blankets in the boxer’s dog house should keep it warm.

Not Biologically Adapted 

Veterinarian Ernie Ford recently posted a video examining how cold it gets in a dog house by staying in one for 4 hours.

At the beginning of the video the temperature outside the dog house is is 14 degrees. The temperature in the dog house is 25 degrees.

After an hour the temperature in the dog house drops to 21 degrees. After 4 hours the temperature in the dog house is 17 degrees and 8 degrees outside.

Dr. Becker notes that it’s a calm night, but on windy nights the wind chill would lower the temperature even more. Note also that he’s in a well-built dog house with no cracks or openings that could let cold air inside.

After spending 4 hours in the dog house, Dr. Ford said, “No dog is biologically adapted to handle this type of cold.”

He also said dogs left outside in extremely cold weather suffer immensely, especially dogs with health problems and older dogs.

This video dispels the notion that dog houses adequately protect against the cold..  It may be a few degrees warmer than the temperature outside, but in subfreezing weather, the temperature in the dog house will still be unbearable for any length of time.

What do you think?

This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, survivors of domestic violence need your help

Nearly 50% of pet owning women will delay leaving an abusive home due to fear for the lives of their pets. Victims shouldn’t have to make the terrible choice between leaving to save themselves and their children, and leaving their pets behind with an abusive partner. The solution? Create safe spaces where domestic violence victims, their children, and their pets can all find safety together.

Double your impact. Right now, your gift to save pets in need from abuse will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,000.

That’s where Greater Good Charities’ Rescue Rebuild program comes in. We’re re-imagining shelters for women who are victims of abuse. This October, for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the team is headed to a domestic violence shelter in Oklahoma to renovate and transform it to properly accommodate women and their pets. We’ll work to convert a pole barn into an animal space, which will include six indoor kennels, pet visitation rooms, a free-roaming cat room, a play yard and more!

Together we can change the lives of women across the country by allowing them to bring their furry companions with them during this traumatic time.

Your donation today helps make this project possible. Right now, your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $20,000 by a generous Rescue Rebuild supporter! 

From https://theanimalrescuesite.greatergood.com/clicktogive/ars/home

The Freckles on My Sister’s Snout

from http://www.projectdog.co.za

I wandered alone for a long time, but it wasn’t always so. I have vague memories—little scraps of images—from the past: the tumble and tussle of warm fur, the shimmer of sun on my brother’s back, the freckles on my sister’s snout. We were given away, placed in a box in a grocery store parking lot and given to anyone who would take us. We were held up, cooed over, and carried off under people’s arms.

The person who took me changed his mind when I grew larger. He tied me up in the backyard for months—with intermittent water and food—and then took me on a car ride and left me on the side of the road. I fended for myself then. Sometimes I was thirsty, sometimes I was cold, often I was hungry.

This morning, a man saw me, stooped down, and called to me. I watched him warily and then darted away. I have trouble trusting people. He left and then came back, carrying a bowl that smelled good. He sat quietly beside the bowl and I approached carefully, then backed away, then approached again.  With one last sideways glance at the man, who looked at me calmly, kindly, I stretched my neck toward the bowl and began to eat. The man reached out and stroked my fur, first tentatively, then steadily. When he slipped a lead around my neck, he bent down to my level and said, “Come with me; we will find you a home,” I go with him, to the first warmth and comfort I’ve known in a long time.

A Massive Blow to the Puppy Mill Industry: Illinois Ends the Sale of Puppies in Pet Stores

From Humane Society of the United States CEO Kitty Block

A massive blow to puppy mill industry: Illinois ends the sale of puppies in pet stores

Commercial dog breeders often provide little in the way of comfort or love to the animals in their operations. Illinois’ new ban on puppy sales by pet stores is a major win in the fight to shut off support for these places.

In a major win in the fight against cruel puppy mills, Illinois’ Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed the Humane Pet Store Bill (HB 1711) into law. The state’s 21 puppy-selling pet stores have 180 days from August 27, the date the bill was signed, to stop selling commercially raised puppies and kittens. This effectively closes out a profitable sales channel for puppy mills and will drive the Illinois pet market towards more humane sources like shelters, rescues and responsible breeders.

Illinois pet stores sell thousands of puppies each year from large-scale commercial breeders and brokers who treat mother dogs as little more than breeding machines and puppies as mere products to be shipped to pet stores and sold. Many of these operations have terrible animal welfare records, impacting the health of the puppies. When families acquire ill puppies, this can lead to high veterinary bills and the puppies can even die within weeks of purchase, leaving families heartbroken. The new law sends a clear message: The days when pet stores can showcase the cute puppy or kitten in the window while puppy and kitten mills hide their horrors are coming to an end. Despite the vast resources the pet stores put into fighting this legislation, it passed both the state House and Senate by strong bipartisan majorities. And Gov. Pritzker did not cave to the veto campaign that followed its passage. Instead, lawmakers, led by Republican Rep. Andrew Chesney and Democratic Sen. Cristina Castro, sided with the people of Illinois who called and emailed by the thousands to urge support for this important law.

Illinois now joins California, Maryland, Maine, Washington and nearly 400 localities across 30 states in prohibiting the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores. The writing is on the wall for puppy-selling pet stores: It’s time to cut ties with puppy mills and, rather than add to the pet overpopulation crisis that is currently gripping large parts of the nation, pet stores should look to join with shelters and rescues to increase adoptions of animals who would otherwise be left homeless.

Petland, the largest retailer of puppy mill puppies and a company we’ve criticized for mistreating animals, selling sick animals and sourcing from some of the worst breeders in the nation, will be affected by the Illinois law. Eight Petland stores in the state will have to stop selling puppies in the coming months, and the recent passage of pet store ordinances in Florida counties adds four more elsewhere in the country. As a dominant force in the industry, Petland should take a good look at where things are moving and shift all its stores away from selling puppies.

The strong stand by Illinois lawmakers against puppy mill cruelty this session did not stop with the pet store bill. The state also became the first in the nation to prohibit the financing of dog and cat purchases with the enactment of HB 572. Because puppy mill puppies are often sold for thousands of dollars to those who may not be able to afford them outright, some stores offer financing as an incentive to close the sale. Pet stores and large internet brokers often promise low-interest financing through third-party lenders that end up charging exorbitantly high-interest rates and hidden fees. Petland customers have complained of interest rates as high as 188%, and in some cases, customers must make payments for years after their pets died. HB 572 passed unanimously in both chambers, showing zero tolerance for these predatory practices.

With the momentum of public opinion and bipartisan lawmakers on our side, we will continue full steam ahead until puppy mills no longer exist. New York, with more than 60 puppy-selling stores, is in the middle of a two-year legislative session in which a humane pet store bill has already passed the state Senate. Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts also have active bills, and there are several key local ordinance votes coming up. We are campaigning for the passage of these laws in communities around the country that are affected by the impacts of puppy mills, leading the charge for a more humane future for puppies and kittens.

Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock

A new ‘leash’ on life: Government program will train dogs for veterans with PTSD

From NBC News – As many as 20 veterans out of 100 from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have PTSD, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Becca Stephens comforting — and being comforted by — her service dog, Bobbi.
Becca Stephens comforting — and being comforted by — her service dog, Bobbi.K9s for Warriors

This month, Congress passed a bipartisan bill — the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers, or PAWS, for Veterans Therapy Act — to help connect veterans with their own service dogs. The bill is now headed to the desk of dog-lover President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it.

By Patrick Martin

Bobbi keeps her soft brown eyes on Becca Stephens while patrolling the aisles of a grocery store, ever-vigilant of potential threats. She walks slightly behind, making sure no one can get the jump on the person she is there to protect.

Once the mission is over, Bobbi will head home, get a nice treat and play with her favorite toy, a bright orange traffic cone.

Bobbi is a service dog who has been by Stephens’ side for the last three years. The golden Labrador is specially trained to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, like Stephens of Clearwater, Florida.

Stephens is a 36-year-old combat veteran who served in Basra, Iraq, from 2009 to 2010, working on radio equipment for her unit. She was diagnosed with PTSD in 2011.

“She just always has my back, and she knows” when Stephens needs reassurance, the veteran told NBC News.

Becca Stephens comforting — and being comforted by — her service dog, Bobbi.
Becca Stephens comforting — and being comforted by — her service dog, Bobbi.K9s for Warriors

This month, Congress passed a bipartisan bill — the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers, or PAWS, for Veterans Therapy Act — to help connect veterans with their own service dogs. The bill is now headed to the desk of dog-lover President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it.

At that point, the Department of Veterans Affairs would work with organizations like K9s for Warriors, a Florida nonprofit organization that provides service dogs to veterans, which is where Stephens trained with Bobbi. The five-year program would take effect Jan. 1, 2022, said Rory Diamond, CEO of K9s for Warriors.

“We’re encouraged by the passage of this bill by both houses of Congress as an integral first step in the fight against veteran suicide,” Diamond said.

Of the more than 700 veterans who have been through the K9s for Warriors program, 72 percent had attempted suicide before being paired with their service dogs, Diamond said.

“We’re incredibly good at keeping them alive,” Diamond said. “So why wouldn’t the VA want to be part of that?”

Related

The program comes at a critical time. As many as 20 veterans out of 100 from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have PTSD, according to the VA. The pandemic has caused even more stress for veterans, with calls to the veterans crisis line surging more than 15 percent last year. And experts agree PTSD is underreported.

Veteran suicide continues to plague former service members. From 2005 to 2018, nearly 90,000 veterans have died by suicide, and the number continues to rise, according to the most recent report from the VA.

While Stephens may not have visible injuries, she is still wounded from the tolls of combat. After her deployment to Iraq, she said, she could never relax and always experienced a heightened sense of awareness. Medication prescribed after her PTSD diagnosis didn’t really help her.

“I was constantly having mood swings, you know, very palpable anger towards anything, extremely irritable, I would have nightmares, almost all the time,” she said.

Her PTSD ultimately led to a seven-year drug addiction, she said. Before meeting Bobbi, Stephens said, she contemplated suicide, going so far as to develop a pros and cons list.

“I was sitting on the edge of my bed thinking, you know, ‘This is it. I have nothing left at this point,'” she said.

Becca Stephens in her car with her service dog, Bobbi.
“You do all kinds of things that you’ve been avoiding,” said Becca Stephens, seen here in her car with her service dog, Bobbi.K9s for Warriors

Training a service dog to help someone with PTSD is an immersive program that helps the veteran and dog form a bond. The dog learns to notice signs of anxiety and how to soothe its owner.

“We found that, by and large, the most important and most commonly used task was to calm or comfort anxiety,” said Maggie O’Haire, an associate professor of human-animal interaction at Purdue University who works with K9s for Warriors.

Her research shows service dogs can help reduce the severity of PTSD in veterans. In a 2020 report released by the VA, participants paired with service dogs trained for PTSD had fewer suicidal behaviors and ideations within the first 18 months, compared to people with emotional support animals.

The tasks performed by these specially trained service dogs vary widely and are specific to the owner. One common task is called “lap,” a dog’s version of a weighted blanket.

“It’s basically deep pressure therapy for our warriors,” said Air Force veteran Christel Fleming, a trainer at K9s for Warriors. “We want the dog to get up, put its two front limbs across the warrior’s lap and to stay there calmly.”

The dog is taught not to jump up or lick the owner’s face.

A service dog.
“Instead of looking at the outside world and being really freaked out about what’s going on, they can look at their dog, scratch their dog, love on their dog and calm down,” said Air Force veteran Christel Fleming, a K9s for Warriors trainer.K9s for Warriors

“Instead of looking at the outside world and being really freaked out about what’s going on, [the veteran] can look at their dog, scratch their dog, love on their dog and calm down,” Fleming said.

The dogs aren’t intended to replace doctor visits or medication. In fact, O’Haire said the animals help their owners get out of the house for treatment appointments.

With Bobbi by her side, Stephens said, she is now three years sober and out in public all the time. She said the dog has given her a new “leash” on life.

“When I started to trust myself and respect myself and treat myself right, she could see that,” Stephens said.

Lost Your Cat?

It’s a myth that most cats will find their way home.

The most significant findings of a recent study were that a thorough physical search is likely to increase the chances of finding cats alive and most cats are found within a 500 m (1/3 mile) radius of their point of escape. Cats that were indoor-outdoor and allowed outside unsupervised traveled longer distances compared with indoor cats that were never allowed outside.

From: https://www.cats.org.uk/help-and-advice/lost-found-and-feral-cats/lost-a-cat and from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5789300/

Five things to help find your lost cat

  1. Shake a box of their favorite biscuits to entice them home.
  2. If your cat has a favorite toy, try leaving it in your garden.
  3. Cats have a strong sense of smell – leave out a regular blanket or bedding to encourage your cat out of hiding.
  4. You might find your moggy is more active at night, especially during hotter weather. Go out with a friend or family member when it is dark to call for your cat by name.
  5. Leave a bowl of water out and some food. A tasty treat such as tuna might be enough to bring your cat home.

Is my cat lost?

Not all cats are house cats. Some are inclined to wander, especially if there is fuss or food to be found elsewhere. It is normal for your cat to pop in and out throughout the day – especially if they have a taste for adventure. If your cat hasn’t returned by the time dinner time comes around, however, you might be worried that your cat is missing. Try not to panic. Cats can disappear for days at a time and return with no trouble, looking perfectly healthy. While you might be worried, they’re likely to stroll in and wonder what all the fuss is about. If they haven’t yet returned, give them a few hours before you make a plan of action.

I’ve lost my cat. What can I do?

If your pet still hasn’t returned home, there are a few simple things you can do to help find your missing cat. The first thing to do is to check your own home and garden. Cats love small cosy spaces and might be hiding in the unlikeliest of places – from cupboards to garden sheds. Check every room in your house, including any outbuildings and sheds too. Behind curtains, under duvets and even in household appliances like tumble dryers and washing machines. If you’re having building work completed, check under floorboards or any holes big enough for a cat to nestle into.

If you’re sure your cat isn’t at home, the next thing to do is to speak to your neighbors as well as any delivery people nearby. They might have seen your lost cat somewhere and can let you know of their whereabouts. Ask them to check their own sheds and outbuildings, as well as under any parked cars in the neighborhood. Remember to check homes on both sides of the road, as well as homes that have gardens that back on to yours. You could even provide neighbours with an up to date photo and your cat’s name, reminding them to keep an eye out.

Advertising on social media is a great way to get the message out that your cat is missing, particularly if you’re a member of a local Facebook community group. Post a clear photo of your cat, their name and your contact details.

It is also useful to keep a list of useful phone numbers pinned to a board in your kitchen. You can download our list below, complete with handy contact details.

How do I get my cat to come home?

If putting out the word about your missing cat hasn’t worked, there are some great tips and tricks to try at home. Cats are heavily reliant on scent and leaving out items that may entice them back to you is well worth an attempt. Things to try include the following:

  • Leave your cat’s favorite toy or some of their unwashed bedding in the garden
  • Leave an unwashed item of your clothing, which will have your scent on it
  • Place any used litter from your cat’s litter tray outside, or perhaps the contents of your hoover for a smell of home
  • Call out for your cat in the garden early in the morning or late at night, when everywhere is likely to be quieter
  • Shake a box of their favorite biscuits or treats
  • Keep calling your cat, leaving enough time for them to hear you and be led home

Lost your cat? Follow our checklist

If you’re beginning the search for a missing cat, download our checklist to tick off each action as you do it.

  • Search first. Check small spaces in your home – everywhere from cosy cupboards to garden sheds, garages and outbuildings
  • Ask your neighbors. They’ll need to check their property, sheds and garages too.
  • Is your cat microchipped? Talk to Petlog on 01296 737 600 or Identibase on 01904 487 600 to register your cat as missing
  • Speak to your local Cats Protection branch or centre to see if they’ve had a cat handed in to them. To find one in your area, visit our Find Us page and enter your postcode
  • Get in touch with animal shelters in your area. Visit catchat.org to find those local to you
  • Contact all vet practices in the area
  • Make and put up flyers with your cat’s photo and description to place around the local area – or post them through your neighbour’s letterboxes
  • Post a description of your cat on your Facebook page, as well as any local community Facebook groups

Download the checklist

Microchipping your cat

Microchipping your cat is the most effective way to ensure that they can be identified if they go missing, and keeping your details up to date can increase the likelihood of a happy reunion. If your lost cat is found and taken to a vet or animal welfare organisation, you’ll be contacted quickly.

Moved house or changed a phone number? You’ll need to let your microchipping company know so that your details that are on file can be amended.Find out more about microchipping your catDownload: Microchipping guide

Helping Abandoned, Stray Cats and Kittens

The following is an excerpt from the Petfinder Blog • by Susan Greene, Petfinder outreach team

Almost every summer, Carol goes out on the porch of her remote rural home and discovers an unfamiliar feline face. Another cat or kitten has been thoughtlessly abandoned during the night.

Carol is a senior citizen, and all of her own cats are fixed. Her income is fixed as well, and she has no money for vet visits for new cats.

Yet the abandonment continues.

I volunteer with a feral-cat trap/neuter/return group in addition to my job with Petfinder. We helped neuter Carol’s outdoor cats in 2002 (all of them were offspring of cats abandoned on her property), so luckily we are there to help when new cats appear in her life. When my phone rang this Sunday, the news was particularly bad: Two female cats and three tiny kittens (pictured) had been left at Carol’s door.

Abandonment of domestic animals is illegal. In New York State it is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine or a year in prison. However, it’s hard to catch someone who merely slows down and tosses a cat alongside a country road or leaves a box of kittens at a campground.

If you wander outside one day with your morning coffee and are greeted by the forlorn mews of an abandoned cat or kittens, you might be tempted to hope they will just “go away.” However, ignoring them will only make the situation worse. A dumped pregnant cat may shortly have kittens beneath your porch. Healthy kittens, abandoned without their mother, will soon starve or become ill or injured.

While you absolutely did not cause the problem, it has become yours, much like a storm that drops a tree in your yard. It’s unexpected and even may cost money to resolve, but nonetheless, there it is, and it’s not going to go away!

Make sure the cat or kitten has food, water, and shelter.
If you can bring her into your home, keep her away from your own pets until you are certain she is healthy.

Call your local animal shelter or humane agency for guidance
To find shelters and adoption groups in your area, use Petfinder’ s animal welfare group search tool. They may be able to take your foundling and find her a new home. Be sure to give a donation if they do. However, if they are unable to accept the cat, or if you prefer to care for her yourself, ask the shelter or rescue group these questions:

  • Do they have advice on caring for very young kittens?
  • Do they have a bulletin board where you can post a flyer for your foundling to help find her a home?
  • Are they aware of other organizations that might be able to help you?
  • Are there low-cost spay/neuter services available locally if you need them?

List the cat in your local “found” lists
If the cat stays in your care, be sure your local shelter places her on their “found” list. Perhaps she was not abandoned. She may be someone’s beloved pet who wandered away or accidentally hitched a ride in the back of a truck. Speak with your neighbors and post flyers. In searching for a possible owner, you may even find someone interested in adopting the cat.

You can also post her to the “found pets” section — and, if no one steps forward to claim her, to the “pets for adoption” section, of the Petfinder classifieds.

Report abandoned pets to your local law enforcement agency.
Make sure to make a statement in writing. Even if police are unable to locate the abandoner, the incident may find its way into the local news police blotter.

Try to find the abandoned cat a home
The Petfinder library has an excellent article on finding a home for a pet. Please be certain, before you let a cat or kitten leave your care, that the pet is either spay/neutered or is going to a home committed to spay/neuter.

One summer I was walking by our local grocery and noted a woman on the sidewalk with a box of “free kittens.” I went to speak to her, planning to explain why this was not the best way to find a home for cats. However, she admitted she previously had dumped kittens at local farms — thinking they wanted them — until she read in the newspaper that it was illegal!

While handing kittens out to strangers on the street isn’t the safest way to adopt them out, it was definitely an improvement over abandonment, and it did get her into the public eye. We could offer her resources to get her own cat fixed and take the kittens to get them into foster homes, thus ending the cycle of kittens and more kittens at her home.

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You Can Make a Difference for Farm Animals by Choosing Certified Humane/Welfare Certified Meat Brands

The ASPCA has provided a list of food brands that have welfare certification, which represents more humane and transparent farming practices. Please consider helping to create a more humane world for farm animals by choosing certified humane or animal welfare certified products.

be kind!

Here are a few of the brands that are Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Certified, or Animal Welfare Approved:

CHICKEN: Aldi – Simply Nature Free Range Organic Chicken • Amazon/Whole Foods – 365 Everyday Value Chicken • Thrive Market – Free Range Chicken, Pasture Raised Chicken •

EGGS: Aldefer’s Eggs• Costco Kirkland Signature Organic Eggs • Nellie’s Free Range Eggs • Pete and Gerry’s Eggs

BEEF: Applegate – Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dog • Country Natural Beef – all products • Crane Dance Farm – app products • Eel River Organic Beef – all products • Niman Ranch – all products • Redger Farms – all products • Wellshire – sliced beef bacon • TruBeef – all products • White Oak Pastures – grass fed beef

PORK: North Country Smokehouse- various products certified • Newman Farms – all products • Joia Food Farm – all products • Goodnight Brothers – all natural product certified • DuBreton – various products certified

LAMB: Anderson Ranches – all products • White Oak Pastures – all products • Joia Food Farm – all products • Central Grazing Company

TURKEY: ButcherBox – ground turkey • Diestel Turkey – pasture raised whole turkey line • Great American Turkey Company – strips, sausages, cutlets • Koch’s Turkey – all products • White Oak Pastures – all products

For ASPCA’s full list:

What You Can To Combat Pet Overpopulation

Only 1 out of every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home. 25% of dogs that enter shelters are purebred. Estimates for homeless cats in the US range up to 70 million.

Every year, millions of cats and dogs are euthanized because shelters are too full and there are more pets than there are responsible homes for them. Until this issue is resolved, American Humane believes that all cats and dogs adopted from public or private animal care and control facilities should be spayed or neutered.

  1. If you are adding a pet to your family, please make sure the pet comes from a legitimate shelter, nonprofit rescue group or a responsible, humane breeder.
  2. Always spay and neuter your pets.
  3. Consider all the responsibilities and consequences of pet ownership before deciding to get a pet and always make a lifetime commitment to your pet.
  4. Educate your children, friends, family members and co-workers about pet overpopulation, adoption and the importance of spaying and neutering.

You can help stop generations of suffering. Have your female pet spayed and your male pet neutered. Don’t allow them to breed and add to the pet overpopulation problem. Many strays are lost pets that were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.

Sources: American Humane, DoSomething.org

What Kind of Emotions Do Animals Feel?

A book by primatologist Frans de Waal suggests that animal and human emotions are more similar than we think

from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_kind_of_emotions_do_animals_feel

By Karin Evans

In a Netherlands zoo, an elderly chimpanzee named Mama is weak and dying. Elderly biology professor Jan van Hooff, who has known the primate for four decades, enters Mama’s enclosure—something usually too dangerous to attempt, given the strength of chimpanzees and their capacity for violent attacks. In their final, poignant encounter, she grins and reaches for him, embraces him, and rhythmically pats the back of his head and neck in a comforting gesture that chimpanzees use to quiet a whimpering infant.

“She was letting him know not to worry,” writes Frans de Waal in his new book, Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves.

As one of the world’s most prominent primatologists, de Waal has been observing animals for four decades now, debunking myths around the differences between animals and humans. His latest book focuses on the emotional lives of animals—showing that humans and other animals may be more alike than we think.

Like de Waal’s other books, Mama’s Last Hug is full of stories, making it highly readable, informative, and emotionally resonant. In another story he recounts, a younger female in Mama’s colony, Kuif, couldn’t produce enough milk to keep her babies alive; so de Waal taught her how to feed an adopted infant with a bottle. Kuif turned out to be a caring and protective mother, learning on her own how to remove the bottle when the baby needed to burp. Afterward, each time de Waal approached Kuif, she showered him with affection and expressions that truly seemed like gratitude.

After Mama’s death, de Waal witnessed the other chimpanzees touching, washing, anointing, and grooming her body—gestures very similar to what humans do after a death. Given such observations of chimpanzees, de Waal asserts, “Their socio-emotional lives resemble ours to such a degree that it is unclear where to draw the line.”

Non-primate animals show emotions, too

While de Waal begins his observations with chimpanzees, he also presents fascinating glimpses of the emotional lives of other animals. For example, Asian elephants wrap their trunks around each other as an expression of consolation. Even rodents, once thought to be unaffected by emotions and devoid of facial expressions, have been found to “express anguish through narrowed eyes, flattened ears, and swollen cheeks.” They also have facial expressions for pleasure, and they recognize these states in other rats. As for horses, De Waal notes that their faces are “about as expressive as those of the primates.”

In dogs, a key facial expression—the “inner-brow pull”—makes their eyes appear larger. This gives them that sad, puppy-like look that pulls at the heartstrings of humans, sometimes leading to canine adoptions. De Waal also digs at an oft-asked question: Do dogs feel shame when they do something wrong? It reminded me of online videos where you see garbage overturned and a dog slouched down, staring at the floor in a way that viewers interpret as “guilt.”

“No one doubts that dogs know when they are in trouble,” writes de Waal, “but whether they actually feel guilty is a point of debate.” According to a study by Alexandra Horowitz, the canine guilty look—“lowered gaze, ears pressed back, slumped body, averted head, tail rapidly beating between the legs—is . . . not about what they have done but about how their owner reacts. If the owner scolds them, they act extremely guilty. If the owner doesn’t, everything is fine and dandy.”

De Waal draws a clear distinction between animal behaviors that connote emotions readable to outside observers and what animals actually feel.

“Anyone who claims to know what animals feel doesn’t have science on their side,” he writes. “Emotions and feelings, while often conflated, are not the same.” Emotions drive behavior and come with physical cues that allow them to be observed and described; feelings are internal subjective states known only to those who possess them.

So, though de Waal views elephants as highly empathic, emotional beings—given how they will rush to comfort a fellow elephant in distress, and how they can recognize themselves in a mirror—he acknowledges that some scientists remain skeptical because we can’t ask elephants (or any animal) about their feelings. “The possibility that animals experience emotions the way we do makes many hard-nosed scientists feel queasy,” de Waal points out, “partly because animals never report any feelings, and partly because the existence of feelings presupposes a level of consciousness that these scientists are unwilling to grant to animals.” 

What animals can teach us about ourselves

As de Waal explores human and non-human emotional territory, he finds considerable common ground. Bonobo babies who are orphaned and raised without maternal love suffer just as human babies do when similarly deprived. Orphaned bonobos have trouble regulating their emotions, whereas bonobos who grow up with maternal affection learn how to weather upheaval. And, just like humans, bonobos who haven’t been nurtured also have trouble comforting others who are in distress.<img alt="Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves (W. W. Norton & Company, 2019, 336 pages)” src=”https://ggsc.s3.amazonaws.com/images/made/images/uploads/Mamas_Last_Hug_200_301_int_c1-1x.jpg&#8221; srcset=”https://ggsc.s3.amazonaws.com/images/made/images/uploads/Mamas_Last_Hug_200_301_int_c1-1x.jpg 1x, https://ggsc.s3.amazonaws.com/images/made/images/uploads/Mamas_Last_Hug_332_499_int_c1-2x.jpg 2x”>Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves (W. W. Norton & Company, 2019, 336 pages)

“For me,” de Waal writes, “the question has never been whether animals have emotions, but how science could have overlooked them for so long.”

Just as de Waal’s book makes readers more attuned to the emotional life of animals, it gives us more than enough to ponder about our own human emotions.

As de Waal compares human behavior to our closest relatives’, he finds much to observe and report. The human smile, for instance, may be linked to the nervous grin found in other primates. “I seriously doubt that the smile is our species’s ‘happy’ face, as is often stated in books about human emotions,” he writes. “Its background is much richer, with meanings other than cheeriness.” Instead, a smile could mean nervousness, a desire to please, amusement, or attraction. 

Additionally, we humans “often wear plastic smiles with no deep meaning whatsoever.” How do you tell which is which? Studies by 19th-century French neurologist Duchenne de Boulogne identified two kinds of human smiles: The genuine version, an expression of positive feelings and joy, is known as the “Duchenne smile” and involves not only lifting the mouth corners and pulling back the lips, but pulling back the muscles around the eyes, resulting in narrowed eyes and wrinkled surrounding skin. A “fake” smile involves the mouth area but not the eyes—a useful distinction to know!

In considering current events, the author identifies two driving forces behind human politics: leaders’ lust for power and followers’ longing for leadership. De Waal observes that hierarchical battles occur in groups of humans as well as in groups of apes, with bullying tactics used by “alpha males” in both. “Like most primates, we are a hierarchical species,” he concludes.

Yet humans shrink from admitting that about themselves, he points out, preferring to describe themselves in gentler, more rarified terms. De Waal writes, “This is why it is so refreshing to work with chimpanzees: They are the honest politicians we all long for.”

Instead of considering ourselves so refined and rational, he suggests, it’s time for us to squarely face the degree to which we—like other animals—are driven by emotions.