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Puppy Love - When Pets Fall for Each Other

By: Margaret Farley

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Friendship Is the Key

The "love" Dodman sees between pets is less the hearts-and-flowers stuff of Valentine's Day than the other stages of love that humans also experience: a mother's love for her offspring or the love of a friend, for instance. "The Greeks, I believe, had seven different words for love - the love for your children, love for your parents, love for a partner, and so on - while we are saddled with just the one word - love - to describe all of these relationships," says Dr. Dodman, who suspects the Greeks would have had a word for the love relationships between pets.

"Romantic love is a stretch of the imagination for dogs and cats, but can they be friends with each other? Yes," says Dodman. "It's well known that dogs grieve when separated from a preferred companion, experiencing sleep disturbances, loss of appetite and general despondency," adds Dodman, who writes about unusually needy animals in the book The Dog Who Loved Too Much (Bantam).

Cats and Dogs Are Promiscuous

Unlike some species that mate for life, cats and dogs breed promiscuously. "At the least a tom cat is polygamous," says Dr. Dodman. A tom, despite his love-em-and-leave-em nature, will protect his lady friends and their offspring, but that's more like ownership than love, he notes, drawing a parallel with sultans and their concubines.

As for puppy love, the infatuation experienced by giddy boys and girls in middle school, who wants to put their pooch through that? It's tough enough watching your kids get dumped. Imagine the heartbreak in Gretchen Browne's household if Abby ever tires of Grady. What then? Probably a letter saying, "Dear Rover, it's over."


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