There are many stories of dogs grieving for owners or animal companions who have died. However, a remarkable video that has gone viral on the internet suggests that they can actually cry. In it, Wiley the therapy dog appears to get choked up at the grave of his handler’s grandmother. Check it out:
The video, which is well on its way to over a million views, is sparking a heated debate. Is this Wolfdog (wolf/dog hybrid) really crying, or is this another case of anthropomorphosizing dog behavior? A lot of skeptics have argued that the dog is actually reverse sneezing (aka backward sneezing). This weird canine phenomenon is characterized by rapid involuntary inhalation through the nose (pretty much exactly what you would expect given the name).
The handler who posted the video had this to say about the controversy:
I’m not a vet either, but reverse sneezing is usually associated with brachycephalic dogs – that is, dogs with smushed faces such as Pugs and Boston Terriers. That certainly doesn’t apply to this Wolfdog, who has an ample snout. Reverse sneezing also generally happens when a dog is excited, which doesn’t seem to be the case here.
One thing is for certain – the video is heartbreaking. You don’t have to accept that this is a genuine example of crying to believe that the dog is grieving. There’s plenty of evidence – both anecdotal and scientific – that dogs mourn the loss of human and animal companions.
The Wolfdog is part of the Warriors and Wolves program, which helps combat veterans transition back to civilian life. The program’s website draws a parallel between the dual nature of Wolfdogs as fierce predators and loving companions, and the situation soldiers face when returning to society. Warriors and Wolves will no doubt be getting a lot of attention thanks to this video.
Coincidentally, there’s another video making the rounds that shows a dog apparently grieving the loss of a friend. This one shows a dog who seems to be saddened by the death of his beaver pal. Apparently these two shared living quarters and played together.
What do you think? Are dogs capable of grief? Can they actually cry?