The other day as I stared into my dog’s eyes which never, ever seem to blink, I thought I should have named him Love.
 
Yes, that does seem like a weird name except I was rehearsing for a concert and the song was My Love Loves Me. See where I’m going?
 
I sing with the Oshkosh Chamber Singers and we had our concert last week. Every song was about love, that was the theme, and maybe it’s because Coconut was injured, but each song at every rehearsal made me think of him.
 
Back to that song. The refrain after each of the many verses in this folksong by Gustav Holst published in 1917 goes like this: I love my love because I know my love loves me!
 
So as I was singing it over and over and Coconut kept staring at me I started thinking this song was about our relationship so I switched the words.
 
“I love my Coconut because I know my Coconut loves me.”
 
Yeah, too many syllables and then I thought maybe I should change his name to Love. I’ve never experienced a more pure expression of love than that which I have with this strong-willed dog.
 
So, here’s the science behind why there’s such a love bond between dogs and humans.
 
The hormone oxytocin is released (in both dogs and people) when they interact/have contact with someone they like. This ‘love hormone’ helps cement and increase the bond we share … it’s also the hormone that floods the system of new moms to amp up attachment to new babies.
 
Dogs definitely love their humans, but how do you know if your dog loves you? Dogs are pretty blatant about expressing their feelings. And it’s not just love, either. My dog expresses anxiety, loneliness, shame, disappointment, and more. The great news for us is that he forgets about all those negative feelings when he sets eyes on me. Here are some of the ways I know my love loves me.
 
He never breaks eye contact
He wags his tail around me. A lot.
He snuggles. Not as much as I’d like, but he’s getting there.
He wants to sleep in my bed. More on that later.
He brings me toys to play with so I can spend time with him.
He yawns when I yawn.
He leans against me. Thankfully, he’s thirty-four pounds so it’s not a bad thing.
 
There’s a reason why we call dogs man’s best friends. I know whether I change Coconut’s name to Love or not, my love loves me.
 
If we ever renew our vows in a ceremony I promise you, this will be me. Coconut will be my best man.