Do Dogs Miss Us When We Are Gone? A “Talking” Dog Offers Insights


 

The viral dog, who communicates with a series of buttons, is very curious where her friends are off to

By NICOLE KARLIS PUBLISHED OCTOBER 10, 2021

 

Any dog owner knows how hard it is to leave their pup for an extended period of time. We wonder: Do they miss us when we’re gone? Do they know how long we’ve been gone for? Or even worse, do they think we’ve abandoned them?

The way humans are excitedly greeted by their dogs upon return — and the way many whine when we leave — suggests they recognize our absence, and mourn it. However, it’s hard to know what is really going on in a dog’s brain — perhaps they just miss the food we give them? — partly because we can’t really communicate with them.

Well, most of them. Alexis Devine is the human parent of Bunny the “talking” dog. Bunny, a sheepadoodle, has been trained to communicate using a sound board with large buttons keyed to different words. By pressing them in sequence, Bunny can relay basic sentences and sentiments — “Bunny sad,” or “where mom,” for instance. Though there is debate over the extent to which she understands language, most animal behavior researchers and laypersons alike agree that she is positively communicating and seems to understand what she says and hears back. Devine shares videos of Bunny “talking” on her social media accounts, giving the internet a glimpse into what it might be like to have a casual conversation with Fido.

 

Recently the beloved sheepadoodle has been concerning herself with the absence of people and animals in her life. And to answer the question about animals missing us when they are gone: if they are anything like Bunny, it would seem that yes, they are very curious about where we go when we leave.

Devine recently filmed Bunny asking her questions about Uni, Devine’s lost cat who has been gone for nearly four months. As Devine told Salon, prior to Uni’s absence, Bunny didn’t “talk” much about Uni.

“It was maybe like two months before he went missing that she had finally finally used the buttons, ‘Uni family together,’ which was a huge accomplishment because they had had such a tenuous and challenging relationship,” Devine said. “And then, last week, it was just heartbreaking, she pressed ‘cat bye,’ and I just about burst into tears. My little heart couldn’t handle it.”

It’s not the first time Bunny has appeared to wonder about some one or some animal while they’re gone. A couple months earlier, Devine’s partner Johnny was at work. “Where dad bye?” Bunny asked.

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