October 22, 2013

Puppy Love


Scott: More than 43 million American families own a dog. And for their owners, the love is unconditional. But science is helping us learn if that feeling is mutual. Maggie Rulli takes a closer look.

Maggie: Meet five-year-old Kady. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her family, the Kings.

Patricia King: Ready? Go get it!

Maggie: Yes, the Kings definitely consider Kady a part of the family. And Kady seems to love them just as much as they love her. But what is the real feeling behind those big eyes and wagging tail?

Patricia: You’ve got to wonder, do they just see the person that’s going to feed them and walk them and give them what they want or do they truly love us?

Maggie: To find out, owner Patricia King volunteered Kady for a research study at Emory University in Atlanta Georgia. Led by neurologist Gregory Berns, the goal was to see if dogs feel emotion the same way humans do.

Berns has spent his career using MRI brain scans to study decision-making in humans, but this technology has never before been used on dogs. Among the problems: they need to be awake and remain still for the noisy and claustrophobic procedure.

Gregory Berns: They’re coffin-like spaces. They’re incredibly loud and you have to hold still within millimeters.

Maggie: That is where Kady came in. To block out the noise, she learned to wear special earmuffs and was trained to remain perfectly still. Once in place, the team took brain scans of Kady while she was given commands and shown food, like hot dogs, first by a stranger and then by her owner Patricia.

Berns: We’re trying to sort out how she’s responding, not just to the signals, but to who’s giving the signals.

Maggie: What Berns found was that in one key part of the brain, dogs react with emotions like love and attachment the same way a human does. That key part of the brain is called the caudate nucleus and it sits right between the cerebral cortex and the brain stem.

In humans, it is important because it helps us get excited for the things that we enjoy, like food. In dogs, Berns found that the caudate nucleus also gets activated by food, as well as the smells of familiar humans and even when their owners come into the room.

Berns has documented his findings in a newly released book called How Dogs Love Us. As for Patricia King and her family, the results of the study only confirmed what they already knew.

Patricia: We all just want to be loved. And just to know that our dog might have the same feelings, I think it will enhance our bond. And we just see them as a little more like us.

Maggie: Berns says that a dog’s ability to experience positive emotions, like love and attachment, is similar to that of a human child. And he hopes these findings will convince lawmakers to revise laws to give greater rights to dogs as individuals.

Well, Scott, I know you love your dog, so I bet you are awfully happy to hear that she loves you back.

Scott: How could you not love a face like this! Am I right? Who doesn’t love puppy pics? In fact, we would love to see your best photos of you and your pet! Just post to Instagram and use the hashtag “#ch1puppylove”. Just like this. And we will repost our faves throughout the day.


30 comments on “Puppy Love

  1. victoria

    its obvious that my dogs love me and my mom they wont eat or go out unless we are home. i was in a pile of leaves because i fell bach my dog grabs my coat in his mouth and pulls me out like the pile was going to eat me.

  2. Brittany Trotter

    I love my dog Zoey and Lily I hope they Zoey has a good family now I had to give her away it was so sad because she was so cute.

  3. Korin Lucas

    I think this is very cool, even though I’ve always known my dog loves me. He always runs up to me as fast as he can when I come home, even when I don’t have food in my hands. Dogs are amazing, and truly mans best friend.

    1. Lincoln Elementary East Side WY

      I did know that dogs have feeling but i never give my dogs a walk that often so,but the sow is so cool.

  4. Shaun

    My dog is a Yorkshire Terrier his name is Buster. Buster loves me and I love him to. Every time I come home he run to me and likes my face. “Silly Dog”

  5. Kimberly Denney

    It’s quite obvious that my dogs love me! I’m the one in my family that plays, feeds, and takes care of the little cuties at my homes. Browser, my 3-4 year old Lab/Mix, is always so hyper and very active, while Sassy, my 8 year old full blooded Akita, seems laid bacj unless we start playing. Luke, a two year old Boxer/Mix, is the newest edition. He’s very hyper, but minds well. I love all my pets, including rabbits, chickens, and guinea pigs alike!

  6. Kimberly Denney

    I believe it’s an amazing thing knowing that our pets truly, scientifically love us. Although, I was quite aware before of the love radiating between my dogs Sassy, Browser, and Luke and I.

  7. Lincoln Elementary East Side WY

    I think that Patrica and her family love their dog a little more because they know that she loves them too! :)

  8. Lincoln Elementary East Side WY

    I think that it is cool how you can test a dog like that and train it to where those net ear muffs.

  9. Alyssa-Simoes

    I think it is REALLY COOL that the scientists can see how dogs love us. It leaves one with a stronger appreciation for their own animals. I love this video- and I love CHANNEL ONE NEWS!

  10. Heidi-Doerr

    Snoopy, our Japanese chin/Pomeranian mix breed, has lots of puppy love in my family. He mostly gets more attractive to my big sister more than any of us.

  11. doglover500

    I love my dog, Sam, like e’s my own brother! I can tell he loves me because he whines when he cant see or hear us. I believe that dogs judge you with their love based on how caring and respectful you are to them. I hope everyone can love and care for their pet the way I do.

  12. Cami

    My dog trinity was very agressive when we first got her, she would attack our other daogs and such, i didnt give up on her but my parents had us give her away. then a couple weeks later we had to take her back, she was almost a totally different dog. she backs down when she got agressive, she almost NEVER attacks then dogs and is a great family dog. i dont know what i would’ve done if i hadnt gotten her back. Now we are a complete happy family and i am happy that trinity is ok with the others dogs now :D

  13. Nikki spoons

    I truely think puppies are a best freind just because they listen, love, and play. I have a dog and it fails at jumping on chairs.


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