A recent study by Japanese researchers shows that dogs can cry tears of joy when their owners come home after a day at work. Tears are believed to deepen the bond between dogs and their owners. But how deep can this bond go?
PC Dave Wardell has an unbreakable bond with former police dog Finn, a German shepherd.
In 2016, aged seven, Finn was nearly stabbed to death while protecting PC Wardell, his handler, from an armed suspect in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
Finn had been trained and lived with the officer since he was a puppy.
PC Wardell has no doubt that Finn saved his life on that fateful night almost six years ago, and often refers to the dog as a ‘hero’.
The pair are together “almost 24 hours a day – so the bond is very strong,” she says.
PC Wardell saw Finn undergo emergency surgery on the night of the attack and slept next to the dog as he recovered at the family home.
A teenager was remanded in custody for the attack.
The attack on the dog was treated by law as “criminal damage”,
Finn retired from duty aged eight in April 2017, having recovered from his near-fatal injuries.
Since then he has continued to live as a member of the policeman’s family.
PC Wardell, who is still serving, has no doubts about the strength of the bond between owner and dog and was not surprised to see the study’s findings.
However, she said: “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Finn cry – but he’s very squeamish and very happy to see his ‘daddy’.
“We’re so close we’re both really excited and you can tell from his whole body that he’s so happy.
“If Finn can’t come on holiday with us, I’m not going – and my family have understood that.”
The bond between a retired police dog and his owner is so strong, he believes the animal has other powers.
“It forces the family – if you believe in a sixth sense, then it has,” says PC Wardell.
“I work different hours and different shifts all the time, but Finn knows when I come home.
“My wife and kids have texted to ask if I’m on my way because Finn is excited.
“I can be up to 40 miles away, but I can say ‘yeah, I’m just getting in the car now.’
“We’re still the best of friends,” she says. “He knows what I’m thinking and there’s no one I’d rather spend time with.
“You can never break that bond.”
What does an animal behaviorist say?
Jane Williams, clinical animal behaviourist and secretary of the Animal Behavior and Training Council, says German shepherds are “probably the breed that forms the closest bond with the human they consider their ‘shepherd'”.
“The best time to bond – to form a lifelong bond with a puppy – is from around eight weeks of age,” she says.
“Dogs are bred to be with people, and if you’re very close and do lots of fun things together, that will help.”
He is not surprised to hear of the deep bond between PC Wardell and Finn.
“Finn has spent his whole life having fun – the work he does is fun, with a reward-based approach that dogs love.
“Dogs love to hear ‘what a good boy’ – and punishment – even verbal punishment, creates stress in dogs.”
Mrs Williams isn’t sure about crying dogs, but says: “They’re very good at reading our expressions and body language.
“I think there’s every chance of an emotional reaction when their owners come back because dogs don’t enjoy being alone.”
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