Can Dogs Feel Sadness…

Can dogs feel sadness? I believe they can, and I think I met one that has.

Donner was six months old when he first ended up at Winnipeg Animal Services as a stray. He came in with a buddy.. both remained unclaimed. His friend, about the same age, maybe a tad older and all black, was the lucky one. He found a home within the first week of being in the adoption program.

That was way back in December.

Now it is April and still Donner waits. Must be difficult for a pup who is full of vim and vigor to be penned up and expected to wait.

No wonder he gets restless and acts a little stir crazy whenever someone new approaches his kennel. No wonder he barks and spins.

And no wonder people walk on by.

It has been so long that we thought maybe some new photos might help.

As I opened the door to his pen, true to form, Donner jumped up and rested his paws on my chest.

“No wonder,” I thought as I shook my head, gave a “down” and slipped the lead over his ears. “No wonder”.

Starting to doubt that this was going to work, I opened the gate, we stepped out and made our way to the exit. We hadn’t even made it to the end of the aisle when I could sense a change. Quite unexpectedly it was a calm Donner who now walked beside me and once outside he seemed quieter still.

Where was the crazy goof that, just minutes ago, was doing a spinning dance inside his pen. Gone.

My guess was that this is all he wanted … just to get out and be with someone.

Once outside, much to my surprise, he remained calm, no running around in circles, no bounding leaps. He sniffed a bit, chased the toy a little, and then simply came and sat beside me. He raised his head and looked at me with questioning sad, sad eyes. It was almost as if he knew that this little break from kennel life would be like the others… short lived.

My heart broke.

We stayed out side a little longer than the norm, took some photos but mostly played. He perked up some but still his eyes and his essence just seemed so sad.

Poor beautiful boy. I hope the new photos will spark someone’s interest. And I hope even more that that someone takes the time to take this boy outside to meet the real Donner, the Donner that simply needs a friend.

I really really hope.

Post Note Update:
Donner is still waiting for his perfect family but he is one positive step closer. He is now under the care of Darcy’s A.R.C. (Animal Rescue Center). This is a no-kill shelter in Winnipeg. Finally out of the kennel environment after way too long a wait. Thank you Darcy!

**HAPPY NEWS** Donner has been Adopted!!

Related Links:
Darcy’s A.R.C. (Animal Rescue Center)
Winnipeg Animal Services

7 thoughts on “Can Dogs Feel Sadness…

  1. Oh Col…I hope someone comes for Donner, too. I can just feel his sadness from your story.
    Thanks to you he had a taste of love and caring……


  2. I’ve been reading some fascinating books on the intellect and emotions and dogs and finally the scientific community is realizing what all dog owners know. They think and feel and they need human contact. It’s part of what they are for thousands of years.


  3. The only way to truly get to know a dog you are looking to adopt is to bring it out of its kennel. To some dogs a kennel is a secure place, their home and to some of those dogs that is all they have so they will bark and growl and let people know “this is my territory, its all i’ve got, so leave it alone” this scares off potential adopters. Others see the kennel as 4 walls too close together and they are too excited to sit still, these dogs jump and bark and spin, like donner. This scares off potential adopters because it means they will have to do work, the dog will need to be trained and its so excitable, do they really want to deal with that? There are many other behaviours that scare off adopters but these too are the ones i have seen first hand.
    These dogs change completely once out of the kennel and become the best dogs you could ever ask for. Take a chance, ask to bring the dog for a walk or even better home for a couple nights to see how they fit in with the family and home environment. Not every dog is going to work out with the person that wanted to adopt it but how is anyone to know without giving them a chance. Anyone would be lucky to have such a good looking relaxed dog!!


    • This is wonderful advise Teagan.. and so true. At WAS (Winnipeg Animal Services) we encourage the use of one of the two outside enclosures for anyone wishing to get acquainted with any one of our WAS dogs. We also encourage the use of the outdoor space for getting the dog acquainted with children and other family dogs. And it is also so true that for many, the dog that they see in the kennel is not the same dog they will see once outside.


      • I am graduating from the vet tech program in northern ontario and just adopted one of the dogs at the school. He has only bonded with me out of the hundreds of people at the school and the difference i see that no body else sees is what i like. In the kennel he sits at the back cowering staring at the wall, when you walk in he tried to dissapear into the wall and urinates all over himself. When he seems me he runs to me and jumps up to give me a hug. I bring him outside and he plays and runs and sniffs and just loves life, as soon as i return to the building he goes back to the shut down scared dog that everyone else sees. I had to take a video of him enjoying life for people to see what i see in this dog. People see him as boring, hopeless and having no quality of life. I tell them that for this dog to have a good quality life he has to be with me, He knows he can be himself with me and enjoy himself without being scared that he is doing something wrong. Every dog deserves a chance and the kennel is just like the picture on the website. You see a cute face but you dont see the personality behind it.


  4. This is so true. Great article ! I see this everyday as well. I am the shelter manager of a SPCA. Thanks for sharing. Hope you do t mind that I am
    Going to share this on our website.


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