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.
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.
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.
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.