I don’t like to take long vacations. My friends think it’s because I’m a workaholic. Yah work is a part of it but mostly because I don’t like to leave my dogs behind. I miss them so much even when I’m gone gone for a couple days. I feel guilty wondering if they feel the same. I’ve always suspected dogs have no concept of time because they seem to greet me with the same intensity when I come back from getting the mail as they do when I get home after a long day of work.
I looked up a study, published in Applied Animal Behavior Science, that attempted to answer that question. (“The Effect of time left alone at home on dog welfare,” Vol 129, 2011), by researchers Therese Rehn and Lindsay Keeling. They found in their study the dogs showed much more excitement when the owners returned after 2 hours as opposed to 30 minutes. So it seemed they could tell how long their humans were gone but there was no difference in the dog’s greeting ‘intensity’ between 2 and 4 hours. So any time beyond 2 hours, it was unclear if dogs could tell the difference.
I think this research is pretty interesting but I swear when I get back from vacation, Kenshin (my oldest) actually seems a little mad at me. He always looks at me and walks off as if he’s giving me the cold shoulder. He also gets really mopey as soon as he sees my suitcase being taken out of the closet when I start to pack. Well .. I’m leaving to my friend’s wedding in Hawaii. My babies will be with their grandparents. What do you think? Can our dogs tell when we’ve been gone for days? Weeks? Or do you think everything is just one big blur?