Every moment I look into my little dogs’ eyes, I am filled with a kind of love that I simply can’t explain.
It’s like he knows me, he really hears me and he intuitively feels how I am, so he can give me the emotional support I need that day.
When I say this out loud, it sounds silly and obsessive. After all, he’s “just a dog” as non-dog owners will say. But before I got my own puppy, I’d often say (or think) the same because I just didn’t “get it”. I never understood the deep love and connection that could come from having a dog.
I never understood how a puppy could fill a gap in your heart that a person could never fill. I never understood how therapeutic and healing having a dog could be and how I’d never feel alone when they were around.
But this was before I knew I was an empath. When I first heard the definition of empathy, “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another”, my heart skipped home.
Empaths have the ability to experience and absorb other people’s emotions and live them as if they were their own. When I understood this, a life filled with emotion and angst suddenly made complete sense.
There are many types of empathy, some of the most common forms are emotional, physical and global empaths. But if you identify as an animal empath, then you’ll find you’re particularly sensitive to the emotions, expressions, and needs of our furry friends. Animal empaths tend to have much deeper connections with their pets and their experiences with animals are more nurturing and energizing, which helps restore your energetic balance.
Empathic people experience dogs’ expressions more strongly.
A study from the University of Helsinki found that there is truth to empaths feeling stronger connections with dogs. By gazing at a range of human and dog faces with various expressions, the study found that empaths felt dogs facial expressions more intensely than human expressions. This feeling of empathy and connection was found to be more intense if the empath had previous experience with dogs, such as owning a childhood pet pup.
As an empath living with anxiety, I am not surprised by these findings at all because I feel these strong and intense feeling every day. Looking into the eyes of my dog and loving him unconditionally has made the world of difference to my everyday life.
When I’ve had a bad day, my dog sits on my lap knowing that his warmth will calm me down. When my anxiety is high and my nervous system feels shattered, my pup gives me a little lick and invites me to play with him to increase my happy hormones. When I feel agitated and restless, taking a mindful walk with my pup by my side, always help bring perspective, clarity, and calmness as I watch him wander around the world with playful curiosity.
A deep connection with your furry friend combined with the loyalty and protection they want to give you, forms a bond so strong, that now I can’t really remember what life was like before I brought my dog home!
The love between us is authentic, honest and real, but it’s so different from the incredible love and connection between two people.
Although I have strong, deep and intimate connections with people too, there’s nothing quite like the love between an empath and their dog. Which is something that my husband is now used to as he often jokes that he’s “second best”.
Every morning, when I wake up to the sound of his tail wagging, I’m filled with joy and can’t wait to get out of bed to play with him (which is a perfect motivator for non-morning people like me). Dog’s are always excited to see you awake and when your eyes connect, you can feel their loyalty and love streaming through their half-awake gaze.
Without speaking, dogs can teach us so much, such as patience, mindfulness, how to slow down and to remember to have fun!
It is all of these traits and so much more that makes dogs an empaths best friend.
The original article was written for elephantjournal.com.