Let’s all celebrate Friday with some ugly crying. After his dog, Hank, passed away on January 20, Brett Bennett posted this moving video of his other dog, Brutus, apparently grieving over his lost brother. Bennett, who lives in Washington, rescued Hank and Brutus from a shelter two years ago; the Rottweilers were brothers born in the same litter, and had been together their whole lives. The video shows Brutus resting his head on Hank’s, looking utterly, heartbreakingly sad. (Do you hate me for bringing this into your life yet?)
In the video’s intro, Bennett writes, “This is proof that animals DO have emotions and feel pain just like we do.” For anyone who owns pets, the fact that animals have emotions seems obvious. However, the ability of animals to experience what humans would recognize as emotion has been debated by philosophers and scientists for centuries, from French philosopher René Descartes theory in the seventeenth century that animals are nothing more than automata, to Darwin’s nineteenth-century hypothesis that the emotional expressions of humans evolved from those of animals. Contemporary research supports the idea that animals have emotional lives. Psychology professor Stanley Coren writes that “researchers have come to believe that the mind of a dog is roughly equivalent to that of a human who is two to two-and-a-half years old...This means that a dog will have all of the basic emotions: joy, fear, anger, disgust and even love.” Thus while human perceptions of animals feeling guilt or shame is little more than anthropomorphizing, the idea that Brutus does feel a sense of sadness or grief is a tenable one.
This all a way of saying, I’m sorry about your brother, Brutus, and I’m sorry you’re so sad. What a terrible loss. (And now I’m crying. Internet, why have you done this to me?)
To see Hank and Brutus in happier times, check out Bennett’s YouTube channel.