People Are Losing Their Minds Over What Dogs Dream About

by Joelle Wisler
dogs dream
Yobab / iStock

We lived with a boxer named Reckless Abandon for 14 wonderful years. When we first brought him home, he was the sweetest pile of fur I’d ever laid eyes on, and I’m not embarrassed to say, I fell hard. It was a good thing he was cute, however, because he quickly morphed into the naughtiest and most accident-prone puppy who ever lived.

He was allergic to every single vaccine, so I have vivid memories of driving like a maniac, looking at his poor, swollen face as we rushed him back to the vet again. And then he broke his foot when he was 6 months old, and the doctor said, “You’ll have to keep him from being active.” I started laughing hysterically. Keeping a lunatic Boxer puppy inactive is exactly as easy as it sounds.

Well, when we were at work one day, Recks decided he’d had enough of being inactive. He somehow escaped our house and took himself to the beach which was a couple of blocks away. A friendly neighbor who knew him brought him back, with sand crusted to his cast, his tongue lolling, and looking as happy as any mischievous puppy could look. To this day, I still have no idea how he got out.

He then got diagnosed with a rare puppy disease that caused all of his joints to swell for several weeks. He once ate the entire arm off of our couch. He swallowed a friend’s driver’s license. So to summarize, his puppyhood was a nightmare, and I could have almost purchased a year of college in what it cost to keep him alive.

Despite being a huge pain in my ass, that dog was my baby.

I loved him so much that, since he died last year, I haven’t been able to even consider thinking about getting another dog. I burst into tears every time I think of his sweet face.

When we had human babies, Recks was definitely my favorite child for a few years because he consistently slept and he always pooped where he was supposed to poop. He mellowed with old age, and when we moved to the mountains, he took great joy in scaring away coyotes and bears and moose. Well, he tried with the moose, but it turns out moose aren’t afraid of dogs. At all.

He was always the craziest dreamer. He would bark and yip and run, his feet pedaling all four of his legs frantically as he slept. His whole face would twitch and he would smile and grimace. We always wondered what our wild boy was dreaming about, because…who doesn’t?

Was he thinking about that time he became terrified when a log he approached ended up being a sea lion?

Was he reliving the time when he went to visit our neighbors here in the mountains and he came back with his toenails painted bright red and a letter tucked in his collar that said, “We love you Cookie”?

It turns out, according to one Harvard scientist, he was probably dreaming about us. Yes. US. Me. His family.


Dr. Deirdre Barrett, who is a teacher and a clinical and evolutionary psychologist at Harvard Medical School, says:

“Humans dream about the same things they’re interested in by day, though more visually and less logically. There’s no reason to think animals are any different. Since dogs are generally extremely attached to their human owners, it’s likely your dog is dreaming of your face, your smell and of pleasing or annoying you.”

Seriously, you guys, I can’t stop crying. My family thinks I’ve completely lost it.

But…that whole time Recks was dreaming of us?! My mind is kind of blown. This never occurred to me, and now my heart feels like it might explode.

It turns out that I’m not alone in feeling emotional about this idea. Buzzfeed news published a post showing how Twitter is exploding with people taking pictures of their pets sleeping and themselves crying over the thought that our pets are as emotionally attached to us as we are to them.

So the next time your pet sleeps, and starts whimpering and running in place, he’s dreaming about you. You, too, can feel the joy and the uncontrolled sobbing over this thought now. You’re welcome.

For me, I will have to settle for dreaming about that one great dog of my life, running carefree on the beach, his cast flapping in the wind after him.

Okay, I’m crying again. And yes, we don’t deserve them.

Joelle Wisler