I have lived for eight years now with my dog, Charlie—a bloodhound who’s embarrassingly bad at tracking scents. He greets me jubilantly every time I come home, even if it’s from a quick grocery run. I can hear his tail go thump-thump-thump on the floor in the next room when I laugh; he echoes my mirth even when he can’t see me.
Yet, despite sharing this bond, I often sit down next to him on the couch, give him a hug, and ask my wife, “Do you think he loves me?” “Yes, yes!” she replies, with only slight exasperation, which is charitable because I ask so often.
This routine is almost like a ritual in our household. I wonder if Charlie has any thoughts about it. Looking at him sunning himself on our front porch makes me think about a deeper question: How much do animal minds resemble ours? Do other species have thoughts and feelings and memories the way we do?