I must beg to differ with Grant Piper’s views expressed in his Feb. 20 letter. From my own observations and those of a number of respected authors, it is safe to say that many animals have a very rich emotional life and are capable of higher emotions such as empathy, sadness and joy. I dare say some dogs are far more feeling than many people I’ve met in my life and a damn sight more loyal.
It seems doubtful that Piper has ever raised a dog from puppyhood. Such animals truly bond with their human companions in ways that are at times uncannily like that of a child. Nor, apparently, has Piper ever returned home from a long, exhaustive day to discover his canine pal waiting patiently at the door to greet him with loud barking and a joyful sense of play. Dogs are fully capable of memory as well.
I would recommend that Piper read up on the emotional life of other animals besides Homo sapiens. Works by ethologist Marc Bekoff and the late British veterinarian James Herriot come to mind. Dogs are often such incredible beings that I wonder at times whether we are worthy of them. I have an 8-year-old Corgi who might offer her opinion on this topic, but she’s much more considerate and forgiving than me.