"I don't do sad dog movies."


I've said this countless times. I refuse to watch Marley and Me. I hated I Am Legend in large part due to the fact that (spoiler alert) the dog dies. In 5th grade, I bawled my eyes out reading Where the Red Fern Grows, and I still haven't seen Old Yeller because I had the book when I was little and skipped ahead to the end. But, when Anne Hathaway dies in Les Miserables? Nothing. Not a tear (the rest of the movie was a different story) (and don't even get me started on any of the deaths in the Harry Potter movies...but I digress). The point is, as a general rule I will cry every time a dog dies, but human deaths take a little bit more. I thought I was probably a horrible person, but studies show this is actually pretty normal.

            A study presented by the American Sociological Association showed that people are more likely to feel sorrier for a dog or puppy than a grown man. They went on to explain that empathy is inversely proportionate to age and directly proportionate to vulnerability, meaning the younger and more vulnerable something is, the more empathy we feel for it. The study also explained that the relationship people have with their dogs is very much like the relationship with their children. The compulsive need to protect animals also stems from their unconditional love, which is something that every dog owner understands.

            On the other hand, an article by researcher Marc Bekoff says that animals are also very empathetic. They offered a dog a less tasty treat as a reward for an action, and the dog was less compliant than those who got a better treat. However, I believe that this must be taken with a grain of salt. That is to say, when taking a dog's empathy into consideration, what exactly does a dog feel is a violation of that unconditional love, and consequently make them feel less empathy towards a person or another animal? Other than treats and rewards, what is it that animals understand of the human culture and value highly enough to be offended by? I know that I've been at college for almost a month, and gave very little explanation to my poor, confused beagle at home.   Yet I know that she will still be very excited to see me when I go home next weekend. If I'd left for a month with little explanation to my mother, I think, needless to say, the ending of that story would be very different.

            It makes me feel a little bit better to know that I'm not the only one who would rather watch Air Bud than All Dogs Go to Heaven, and that my dog has empathy for me just as I do for her.



I am completely with you on this one. I will bawl my eyes out when a dog even gets hurt in a movie. I still cry during movies when people die but it's nothing like the way I do for dogs. As fellow females, I wonder if this reaction is the same for men or a little different? I want to say that everyone bawls when dogs die because it's the worst thing to watch but that would be very interesting to find out if there is a difference.

I'm gonna have to agree with you on this one as well. I was once asked if a dog and person were both about to run into the path of a fast-moving car, which one would I save? The dog. obviously. I hate when movies like I Am Legend or My Dog Skip kill off the dog. Instantly I regret watching the film, and also develop a serious inability to ever re-watch the movie again. Victoria, I think your inquiry about a man's reaction compared to that of a woman's is very interesting. I looked up an article regarding a man's emotional response to sappy, sad occurrences (like the death of a dog) and it found that even though men don't always show it, they still feel the power of grief, and that it can even be more powerful than a woman's! Here's the article, so feel free to check it out!


I agree with this post, but only to an extent. I do cry more often when an animal dies in a movie compared to a person, however in real life this does not apply. When one of my cats died compared to an actual person, it was a good cry for the cat and straight up bawling for the person. I agree that both are sad, but I would definitely be more sad if a person I knew died versus if my pet died.

Here are some studies that explain why a pets loss can hurt more: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-03-26/national/35448737_1_pet-owners-center-for-human-animal-interaction-dog

I agree with Sarah, I cry so much more in movies but in reality I feel equally bad for both humans and dogs, when they die. I think it has a lot to do with the dramatic effect that is in the movies, that could be a third variable? Also maybe that we see humans die a lot more even in movies so we don't feel as bad? This article is very interesting and I would definitely like to read more into it. Thanks for sharing it!

Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

Life after death
I'm sure you have heard stories of people on their death bed who have come back to life after…
An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?
We have all heard the expression, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." My question is, does eating…
Accents are weird
I have always wondered why people have accents. Why cant I look at a Spanish word, with all the…

Old Contributions