According to Dr. Brian Hare, author of 'Genius of Dogs', while we sometimes tend to overestimate our furry friends, we also underestimate them at times.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on January 3, 2022. It has since been updated.
Have you ever wondered what goes on inside your pet's brain? How much do they know and understand about what's going on around them? How aware are they of the ups and downs in your life? Do they simply spend their days dreaming about snacks or could there be complex thoughts running through their adorable heads? According to Dr. Brian Hare, author of Genius of Dogs, while we sometimes tend to overestimate our furry friends, we also underestimate them at times. "For instance, dogs are better at reading our body language than our closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos," he told Bored Panda. "Even though dogs do not have hands and do not point, they can understand what we mean when we point, either to help them retrieve something they’ve lost or if we want them to see something that we have seen."
"Researchers have found that when your dog stares at you, oxytocin, also known as the 'hug hormone' goes up in you, and when you return your dog's gaze, their oxytocin goes up," explained Dr. Hare, who is a core member of the Center of Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke University. "This promotes feelings of warmth and bonding and is also known as an oxytocin loop. This also happens to be how babies bond with their parents—before they can walk or talk. They rely on eye contact to bond, and it seems our dogs do the same." It's not just dogs who've blown their humans away with their sometimes "creepily intelligent" actions. Responses to a tweet by the well-known Wholesome Memes account show that there's a lot we don't know about our furry friends.
Here are 23 of our favorite responses:
I was crying & my pet rat Pumpkin grabbed a grocery receipt out of the wastebasket & dropped it in my lap. The really sweet thing about this was that she LOVED small pieces of paper like receipts - she used them for making nests. She gave me something that had value to her. 😭 pic.twitter.com/8ACvxUX0O0— 🎄🎁✨ the figgiest pudding ✨🎁🎄 (@Beccanthropy) December 11, 2021
At a parade my dog approached a child swiftly, which scared the kid. He dropped low, circled around, and belly crawled to the child. The kid calmed down and pet him. He had never met a toddler before— Kazzad2053 (@kazzad2053) December 11, 2021
My cat loves playing fetch and sometimes I use paper balls to throw and she brings them back. When there's not enough toys around (because she kicked all under the furniture again) she raids the paper bin, and brings a flat piece of paper for me to turn into a ball and throw. pic.twitter.com/d69jai90uz— Ghoul (@DontKillGhoul) December 11, 2021
my dog HATES swimming, he’ll never do it unless we physically put him in the water. but once when my mother jumped off of a pier into a lake, my dog thought she was in trouble and he swam out to rescue her ;-;— washbear is dutch for raccoon (@washedbear) December 11, 2021
Mel loved to play fetch with hair ties. 1 day I ran out and he wanted to play. I told him unless he brought me more I couldn’t play. 2 mins later he jumps on the bed with a cardboard sleeve of hair ties and looks me dead in the eyes. I am now convinced he knows English lol pic.twitter.com/NXQVSNeeyi— Rachel (The Anxious) (@rawallace32) December 11, 2021
i was crying and my cat smacked me in the face. mf really went "pull yourself together"— ocho | mothman 🎗 (@2KNOWIWANTEDU) December 11, 2021
When my cat would sneeze I would always check on him and say 'Are you ok? Bless you!' I noticed one day I sneezed and he came running into the room and started making this weird little noise and trying to pet ME. I couldn't help but laugh and thank him for checking on me 🥰😆— jei || (pretend there's something clever here pls) (@pixelsNplay) December 11, 2021
When I broke my leg, Jude provided healing vibrations pic.twitter.com/m1kqtzP9dM— Nicole Leclair (@PhotoCole) December 11, 2021
My cat once bit my mum on the nose in the middle of the night. My mum was furious and confused, but it turns out my fuzzy girl saved her life. Turns out mum has severe sleep apnea and stopped breathing.— Anne the Noble Land Waffle (@diplomacywaffle) December 11, 2021
After a discussion with my cat not to kill birds, he brought this to me as a present. 🤣 pic.twitter.com/KvJb6mqIjt— Heather The Fruit Bat💙 (@TubbyBats) December 11, 2021
The day my sister passed I was a hot mess. I was in my room crying enough to hydrate a large city, and my dog, Radio, smashed his head against the door until I opened it for him. He hopped on the bed and would not leave, pressing himself into me.— Sonic Offline - high key shitposter (@sonicoffline) December 11, 2021
I really did appreciate it. pic.twitter.com/96LHGNqWhr
minutes later. By that time the fire department were already there looking into things and found the furnace building pressure that had we waited for the smoke alarm would've exploded and took the house and likely us with it.— Cody Ward (@temporalwolf333) December 11, 2021
Less wholesome, more creepy. I was babysitting my neighbors cat, Dexter. And like his namesake, he’s a psycho. Dexter HATES women, he’ll attack their legs and even peed on his owners pillow… while she was using it. Men, on the other hand, he loves. Absolute ham for men…— Sunny Night✨Commissions Open (@Sunny_N1GHT) December 11, 2021
I say “You really don’t like me, do you?” Jokingly, but this cat nods his head twice like a human and continues staring at me. There was nothing around that could’ve gotten his attention to make him move like that, his eyes never left me.— Sunny Night✨Commissions Open (@Sunny_N1GHT) December 11, 2021
I got out of there so fast LOL
My cat Truco loves to watch animal documentaries but leaves during commercials. pic.twitter.com/p4ka7umFPS— Nikki García (@nikkigarcia_es) December 11, 2021
One of the first times my fiance's cat came to me was when I was hiding in the basement after a traumatic day at work and bawling silently. She'd NEVER make that direct of an approach before and almost shoved her way into my lap... i'll never forget that~— The Rock n' Roll Dragon 🎸 (@RocknRollDragon) December 11, 2021
Once I had a panic attack over finding a photo of my abuser and my dog came running, knocked my hands away from my face, figured out why I was hyperventilating/ripping the photo and ATE THE HEAD OF MY ABUSER and chewed it up.https://t.co/Jq6oyXyeWI— Pheebz🏳️🌈 (@PhoebeP46) December 11, 2021
This is Harley Quinn. At age ~1, she started crying to me at bedtime. She meowed & meowed & I couldn’t figure why, until I saw the bedroom door wasn’t closed all the way- I usually closed it at bedtime. I shut it & she was fine.— 99 Years Dead President Warren G. Harding (@PopeAwesomeXIII) December 13, 2021
She passed away 2 weeks ago at the age of 14.5 ❤️ pic.twitter.com/qUD2HqSMus
My cats somehow learned how to open a top drawer where the cat treats were— Cotton | Honig | My commissions are open! (@Peppi_De_Fab) December 11, 2021
The best part tho is that they also closed it again AS WELL AS THE TREAT BOX
I only found out when I wanted to give them some and saw that the almost full box was now empty pic.twitter.com/m0OcSJjydA
...could see a human hand. We literally had to put our hands behind our backs to get him to eat.— Tired Cheese Stick (now even more tired) (@StickTired) December 11, 2021
For six months.
For reference, his entire head was the size of the end of my thumb. Intellect & memory were NOT his specialties.
Once I was in the verge of a breakdown my dog came and put his paws in my lap and his head on my shoulder, often lifting it to see me face to face. The thing is that when he freaked out I petted him and put my face near his, also lifting it to see him and tell him it’s okay pic.twitter.com/kfUnOnHmN4— Keke🍬 (Gorou’s boyfriend) (@kekeboiii) December 11, 2021
and apologetic, licking me and meowing with this very "oh my god I'm so sorry, are you okay?" sort of demeanor— fungal little freak 🍄🌿 (they/them) (@LostWeaver) December 11, 2021
After my son died I spent a lot of time in bed. One day when I was doing this my dog Teddy started pouncing on me until I got up. He barked until I followed him outside where he put a pile of his toys into a beam of sunshine and we played. First time I smiled for awhile💕💕 pic.twitter.com/f1IlvRtUi7— Kat (@_DrKat) December 11, 2021
Anytime I was sick or in pain, my cat Loki would always come snuggle & purr SO loud to comfort me... when I had a hysterectomy she was glued to my side, & my lung surgery, & chemo, same with our arthritic dog too, & she was NOT a cuddly cat otherwise. God I miss her 😭 pic.twitter.com/kVb55qyBfP— iopele 17 DAYS UNTIL VACATION 🏹♠️ (@iopele1) December 11, 2021