Opinion: Do dogs get jealous; musings on a post-pandemic life (cartoon)

Do you ever look into a dog’s eyes and wonder what is going on in its head? With the beginning of a new year, many of us are hoping 2021 will be nothing like the previous year. I have been contemplating what the new normal will be like in a post-pandemic world, leading me to ask questions like "do dogs get jealous?"

The number of animal adoptions rose in the last year with many of us confined to our homes and searching for solace and affection from our furry friends. We have become accustomed to working from our homes, thus, animals have adapted to a larger amount of our affection. Many of us are placing our hopes in the effectiveness of the vaccine and contemplating the optimistic normality of post-pandemic life. When we go back to work at an office, will our beloved pets develop jealousy for our once constant time and care?

According to CNN, a study conducted by the University of California, San Diego determined that “results lend support to the hypothesis that jealousy has some ‘primordial’ form that exists in human infants and at least one other social species besides humans.” The study assessed dogs’ emotional responses when their owners' affection was applied to plush toys, resulting in volatile reactions towards the toys.

For many of us, we have felt similar envy when we see influencers and young people disregarding social distancing and partying as if people are not dying. Although the temptation of social interactions can feel incredibly overpowering, it is our responsibility to respect the severity of the pandemic. Instead of indulging in flippant hangouts, we should focus our energies on supporting small businesses, essential workers and limiting the spread of COVID-19.

In a recent newsletter, The New York Times explains that “we’re also missing things we thought it would be impossible to long for: the partner we see 24/7a day spent at the officethat morning commute we once disdained. Those of us who have been staying at home, working or not, these past months, are noticing that even the elements of our daily lives we may have found irksome or negligible have their own particular allure.” Confinement in our homes has allowed us to reflect on the aspects of our lives that we take for granted.

One of my hopes for post-pandemic normality is continued emphasis placed on supporting local businesses. It is all too easy to go straight to Amazon instead of taking the time to find a local shop that supplies our material needs, but making that extra effort doesn’t need to feel like a burden and instead should be viewed as an opportunity. We have seen firsthand the effects of COVID-19 on local and national economies, so instead of just acknowledging the trends of our spending habits, we instead need to take the time to support one another.

In an interview with NPR, Alexandra Horowitz, the director of the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College, explains “that it's possible that we will find ways to kind of incorporate them [our dogs] more in our working lives now that we realize, like, the value of that. So I am kind of looking forward to the possibility of a societal change where maybe you can more often bring your dogs to workspaces or there's just more freedom for the dog person family, you know, to go around together instead of always having to be separated.”

I believe Horowitz's statement is an accurate reflection of how we should view the potential of our post-pandemic lives. Dogs' simplistic lives can serve as a lesson: cherish the moments we can spend with one another. Instead of searching for self-pity for the mundane every day, we must find gratitude for what we do have. We need to acknowledge and accept that our lives will change, but that having to adapt to newer ways of life is good for us.

The pandemic has illuminated the flaws of multiple aspects of American life, including abuse of political power, systemic racism and the fragility of our healthcare system. Our nation’s failures, although harsh, effectively pave the way for future generations to learn from our mistakes. Post-pandemic normality will give us a greater appreciation for the small things in our lives and present us with the opportunity to use personal epiphanies to inspire change. So next time you see your dog, which is inevitable, remember to share some of your affection for the beautiful simplicity that is man's best friend.

This is the opinion of Caroline Thoms, a sophomore English major from Chicago. Email comments to astory@theloyolan.com. Email comments to astory@theloyolan.com. Follow and tweet comments to @LALoyolan on Twitter, and like The Loyolan on Facebook.

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