By Al Magaw

I sometimes wonder about how bright, or how knowledgable, or even how honest some researchers really are – a recent study ( ) into the ability of animals to feel emotion exemplifies my point. Beyond the dryness of the writing, and the emotionless involvement of the author, any pet owner or anyone who has ever been close to a pet can relay many stories of animals showing happiness, fear, excitement, disappointment, love, loss, contentment, anticipation, possessiveness, jealousy, familiarity, homesickness, and altruism. In other words, emotions that run through the same gamete as human emotions do, give them any name you want. When you get “experts” that have to spend thousands of dollars or more to come up with a conclusion that is easily demonstrable by having a pet, or an “expert” with a PHD in canine behavior that claims sled dogs “are not pack animals” and gives, “they are housed separately” as the reasoning behind the outrageous conclusion, really makes you wonder. I’m starting to believe studies into animals should start with the premise that they have similar emotions and instincts as humans do, then work to disprove the theory, rather than the other way around. After all, we inherited our emotions from our ancestors, some traceable to the most primitive of multi-celled beings. There is no reason to assume that those instincts and emotions skipped millions of years of evolution, then magically showed up in humans. — Then there are the dog food companies with “experts” in canine nutrition that tell the public what the public wants to hear about dog food, rather than the truth about what dogs really need for good nutrition. It all makes someone that has experience with animals think twice before trusting the “experts”


Al Magaw is a musher from Salmo, BC. Al keeps a medium sized kennel of 20 – 45 alaskan huskies as well as several pet dogs of various breeds. Al has been training and racing for the last 33 years. Before becoming involved with sled dogs, Al, along with his family, kept and competed with horses for many years. Al can be reached through his website at Al is a guest blogger for Denver Dog Works and can be reached through our website at


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