When we first adopted Gretel, she avoided all direct eye contact with us. She still does once in a while but she’s been doing this thing with me – Gazing into my eyes for a long time.
She’ll be sitting on my lap and she will look up at me. I look at her and our eyes meet. She holds my gaze. Honestly, the depth and length of which we look at each other lovingly is probably borderline inappropriate PDA or creepy to a lot of people. Ha, ha. My love for her and it fills my heart.
I read somewhere a while ago that dogs don’t feel human emotions like love so I kept reminding myself that she’s probably looking for food on my face, not looking at me because she loves me.
However, a recent article, ‘Puppy Eyes’ Help Dogs Bond with Humans, Study Suggests, says “Dogs that make so-called puppy eyes at their owners get a spike in the “love hormone” oxytocin — and their owners do too.” Mothers get a release of oxytocin when they look into the eyes of their baby. Scientists involved in the study believe that dogs may have found a way to tap into that ancient human bonding pathway.
In the new study, which appeared in the journal Science, the team measured the oxytocin levels of dogs and their owners before and after the pairs spent 30 minutes together. After the owners spent quality time gazing into their dogs’ eyes, petting and talking to the furballs, both the people and dogs showed increases in the levels of oxytocin in their urine. The more oxytocin rose in humans, the more it did in dogs as well.
The article says, “Oxytocin performs various actions in humans, such as triggering the onset of labor, reducing stress and helping group members recognize individual members. But in all mammals, one of its key roles is to help a parent and infant bond.” The scientists think that these findings may help explain one how a predatory, fearsome wolf transformed into man’s best friend.
This study gives me hope that Gretel does have some sort of “love” relationship with me. I know I want to believe that she loves me instead of just seeing me as the keeper of the snackies and the unlocker of the door to the outside world 🙂
The article was fascinating. You should go read it.