‘Dog Buries Puppy’ viral video is not what it looks like

I found two good pieces about the “dog buries puppy” video circulating on the web. Once again, we have the tendency for people to read something human into animal behavior. This may not be so. Not surprisingly, we can thank the Daily Mail for this. They know what they want – hits.

Dog Buries Puppy, Not “Heartbreaking” as Some Assume | WebProNews.

Long story short: A dog “somewhere in [the] Middle East,” as the Daily Mail describes it, came across a deceased puppy in a ditch, then spent a few minutes burying the corpse. On a human level, it seemed poignant…
A dog, wandering down the road, sees a fallen child of its own species. It knows the hardships of such a life. It mourns that an innocent has fallen. It seeks to respect and honor that life. And does so conspicuously before a human camera.

Dog buries puppy in Iraq: Why is this video so popular? (+video) – CSMonitor.com.

In the video, whose title translates from Arabic to “dog buries his son in Iraq,” a dog gently sniffs the puppy – found in a ditch with empty water bottles – then proceeds to tenderly bury it, nudging with his nose the sand and dirt over the little body. In the background, three men talk inaudibly in Arabic while the dog works and then call out, in English, “thank you very much” as the dog finishes and leaves.

The video does not give any other information about the scene, such as where exactly it was shot, who took the video, the relationship between the two dogs, or how the puppy died.

Here is another case we covered of a dog burying a dead dog. The CS Monitor story notes that we gravitate to stories where animals act like people and display behaviors that are human-like. Stories like this are very popular, as this story attests. You see words used like “touching” or “heartwarming”. They seem to be reminders that even animals can be compassionate – it’s a natural state. Why can’t humans be so all time?

And here are two cases of a dog “guarding” a grave seen as expressions of loyalty. Debatable. We can’t know that.

Dog guarding master’s grave or more doglike interpretation needed? | Doubtful News.

Dog guards his late master’s grave | Doubtful News.

These stories are nice but we should be careful in assuming too much. They have instincts we are not familiar with. They don’t think like people.

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  4 comments for “‘Dog Buries Puppy’ viral video is not what it looks like

  1. Carol
    June 26, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    Hooray for a voice of reason with an animal story! I’m a dog trainer and besotted by animals, but we humans are way too apt to attribute human qualities to them. Ah, if only I’d had a video of my 100+ pound livestock guardian dog “tenderly” burying a poor dead baby rabbit. What’s the context, you ask? Oh, yeah, she had killed the baby rabbit herself. She dug it up later, carried it around some, and reburied it. I have no idea why. At that point I dug it up myself and disposed of it. (Country person translation: threw it out to where the vultures would find it. Circle of life, you know.)

  2. Charles DuFarle
    June 26, 2013 at 12:51 PM
  3. One Eyed Jack
    June 26, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Cats bury their feces. What are we to think?

  4. DW
    June 27, 2013 at 7:08 AM

    I wonder why it did not move the pup but chose to bury it right there where it was found if it considered the pup to be food to be saved for later. On a territorial level that burial would seem ok but even then the dog would use it’s claws to dig or bury as necessary since the glands secreting their scent is between their toes.. But just the nose? Yes they nudge dirt into place but to not scratch somewhere nearby is lacking the territorial markings as most dogs would normally make. The wetness on the nose btw, is not glandular but is salivary caused by the dog usually licking it’s nose to ‘taste the air’. Usually a dog will press it’s nose against something and then lick their nose to taste it. Ironically when your dog does this it is tasting you it this way it is tasting your day, your activities, etc. This is just another way to gather information besides the sense of smell. The dog in the video does not appear to lick it’s nose prior to burial except right after touching the hind foot of the pup. This leads me to believe it may be identifying the individual scent since this is where the eccrine sweat glands are located. Call me a softy if you will but there appears to be something more than simple instinct going on here. No offense but sometimes skeptics are too quick to credit known animal instincts just because they are known. By the same token those that believe this is an act of mercy are quick to their thinking as well. Since we don’t know what is on the dog’s mind there are two assumptions that are quickly made: One humanizes the dog’s behavior relating it to what we as people understand and the other dehumanizes it. I expect to get a little flack from the skeptical crowd but the logic stands true. There may very well be more going on here than just basic instinct.

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