Thirteen years ago, I decided to take my kids to “just look” at dogs. Of course, we all can predict how that might go, and sure enough, a few hours later we were the proud owners of a fluffy golden retriever and I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.
It was the my biggest impulsive purchase to date, but I’ve never regretted it. Animals bring so much joy to our lives, and our new pup was the perfect addition to our growing family.
We named her Eve, had a special monogrammed collar made for her, and spent an hour stocking up on supplies. Eve cried off and on the whole time.
As we were walking her around on her leash, she would have moments of excitement where she’d lick me and my kids and would wag her tail. But every time we passed the other dogs, she’d see her friend, a sweet yellow lab puppy. Eve would stop to look at her through the glass and they would both cry.
It broke my heart and was almost enough to make me want to bring home her roommate so they could be together forever. Who was I to separate them? And honestly, if I hadn’t had two toddlers at home and another babe on the way in a few months, I would have scooped up the other pup and we would have lived happily ever after.
Some believe that animals aren’t able to show emotion, but it was clear to me that day–those two puppies were intelligent enough to know they weren’t sharing the same space any longer, and they were sad about it. It didn’t take much convincing for me to see animals are, in fact, capable of showing emotion.
I’ve also kept chickens and had one hen who had a few chicks. Every time I’d go in the coop to collect eggs, she’d scoop her babies under her wing and squawk at me until I left. It seemed to be more than just a protective instinct–that chicken was pissed at me for invading her space and was clearly concerned for her littles.
A friend of mine, Lisa, said her Yorkie, Lucy, went into a depressive funk after her puppy, Sadie, passed away. “Although Sadie was 5 at the time of her passing, Lucy didn’t eat, drink, or play for almost a week. She would wedge herself under the sofa and stay there,” she said.
My heart was literally broken after hearing that.
And if you need more convincing that animals are smart enough to feel emotions, or simply need to watch an animal video every day to live your best life and you haven’t seen the viral video of Mama, a chimpanzee giving an old friend a hug, you need to have a seat and grab the Kleenex right this very second.
Frans de Wall, a primatologist who has spent over four decades studying animal behavior has authored a new book that’s available now, Mama’s Last Hug, where he tells stories of animals clearly expressing themselves, and writes that there “are bodily and mental states — from anger and fear to sexual desire and affection and seeking the upper hand — that drive behavior.”
From rats to fish, de Wall presents a very convincing case that human beings are not the only ones capable of experiencing different emotions, saying, “Emotions are everywhere in the animal kingdom, from fish to birds to insects and even in brainy mollusks such as the octopus.”
The beautiful face on the cover belongs to Mama, the chimpanzee in the video who is near death at 59 years old and was visited by an old friend she hadn’t seen for years, biology professor Jan van Hooff.
Hooff came to say good bye to his friend of forty years before she passed, and it’s clear she not only recognized him, but pulled him closer and felt love for him.
If that’s not a perfect example of an animal showing emotion, I don’t know what is.
I melted as she started patting the back of his head and hugging him. Really, if you need a good cry today, look no further than the exchange between the two of them. There’s nothing like a sweet animal video on repeat to make your insides turn to mush. And if you didn’t believe animals were capable of showing emotion before watching this video, I’m pretty sure you’ve changed your mind now.
My kids and I watched this video 20 times before school this morning, and it brightened their day just as much as it brightened mine.
Part of teaching our kids to be kind to animals is showing them that animals have feelings and emotions too. And if you don’t have pets of your own to show them this, Mama’s Last Hug is an excellent place to start.
Be right back, off to watch it again and cry into my sleeve–we are out of tissues.