Research proves we're not crazy dog ladies because our dogs do love us back

Apr 24, 2015 at 5:15 p.m. ET
Image: Alicia French

While staring lovingly into your dog's eyes, have you ever wondered if he just thinks you're crazy? I mean you do dress him in costumes, but mostly for Halloween.

However, new research suggests that this loving look may mean just as much to him as it does to you. Apparently when you and your dog make eye contact, you both get a boost of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for facilitating breastfeeding and creating a bond between human parents and their offspring. It's also thought to play a role in trust and emotional bonding.

Dog owners are already well aware that their pets have feelings, but now even crazy dog ladies (like me) can defend their actions by citing the results of this study. Blame it on the oxytocin. What's even more interesting is the fact that this is likely an evolutionary adaptation due to our unique relationships with our pets. The result wasn't the same when handlers gazed into the eyes of wolves.

More: Dogs who are so excited they just can't stand it

Looking back through the photo roll on my phone that is completely saturated with pictures of my dogs, family members' dogs and our many foster dogs, I instantly feel justified. Thank you, science, for confirming that this behaviour is OK, because after all, we'd do just about anything for the people (and dogs) we love and who love us too. These are the times I was pretty sure I had earned "crazy dog lady" status, but I now know I was just being a good doggy mom.

Like the time I entered my dog into a fashion show

Charlie the cowboy

Or kept buying toys despite the fact that this happened every timeBroken toys

The time I hand-sewed his favourite toy while he scrutinized my work

Sewing dog toys

The time I let the dogs have the entire couch and I sat on the floor

Dogs on the couch

The time I gave her food even though it wasn't time to eat because that face

Dog wants to eat

The time I let him mouth-breathe on me

Cuddles

The time my dog was in my wedding

Wedding with dog

Image: Tangled Lilac Photography

The time I wanted to make sure they felt festive on Halloween

Halloween

Fess up — what crazy things have you done for your dogs?

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