Rescue Journal

animals do not feel gratitude

Carol  ·  Aug. 16, 2008

it is a common human error in dealing with is a losing set up, expect them to feel grateful and they will in the end disappoint you. that is how alot of them lose their homes...they didn't measure up and weren't properly grateful for all the good things their humans had done.

here's how i look at it.

if you share your ice cream with them, they will eat that ice cream and think it tastes very good. if you don't, oh is full of disappointments, maybe next time you will give in.

i was hiding from the heat this afternoon but there were a few things i just had to go do. like check on rusty (he is doing ok) and take jesse out for a pee.

while i was out, i heard spot moo' was not an a-ok, checking in kind of call, it was a "get your ass over here and help me." so i put jesse away and went to find miss spotted cow. i found her down in the bottom pasture, comfortable standing in the shade but slightly distressed cuz she was alone and not too happy about that.

i added my calls to hers and shouted "percy! spot is calling you!" and he dutifully came. i told him to follow me back to the upper field which he did, and i told spot to follow percy which she did too. but lets get real here, they fully intended to follow along because they wanted too, not cuz i asked them. and percy was good natured about getting disturbed from his nap to lead spot back up top. i said thank you to him for that, not that he needed it but because it is a habit, i was raised that way.
spot was not the least bit grateful to me for fixing her problem, she was just glad to be back with everyone else again.

since the americats have had their outside pen built, sunrise has really enjoyed being outside. today while i was hanging out their window to say hello, everyone came over to head butt me back.... including sunrise. he has been shy and a bit standoffish since he got here...he lets me pet him if i want to but never comes seeking it. since that pen was opened up he has become downright social...he comes as soon as i go in there, he stops to say hello, he rubs against me and gets kisses which makes me feel good.

however...sunrise is NOT saying "thank you, thank you, thank you, carol for building me this nice outside pen" ...all he is saying is..." i feel happy today."

i don't know how many of you have heard the rescuers version of the rainbow bridge is a sucky, stupid, ego boosting tale of animals bowing low in gratitude to a human rescuer in a white robe....such utter drivel....we don't need or expect or even want animals to bow to us, we don't need for them to say thank you. thank you for what? for doing what is right?

all we need is to watch them enjoy the taste of our ice cream on a really hot day.



Carol, I am glad that you are finally seeing the Sunrise I knew and loved in Pahrump. Who knows, maybe the outdoors with grass and shelves and ramps and love was what he needed to make his new life complete. I am just glad that he is his happy self again. Thank You.


i think gratitude is not an emotion, it is a learned sociological emotionally cloned response. animals accept kindness or favors in the simplest is there and so they accept it. gratitude implies obligation and maybe a sense that somehow the kindness or favor might not be deserved and so we as humans are thus thankful. animals don't think like we do with strings attached to giving thus requiring some kind of measurable response...they just accept whatever is given as a given and they just leave it at that....this is why living with animals is so breaks relationships down into their simplest and least complicated forms.


Dogs feel many emotions considered "human".....jealousy, fear, love, anger, joy, why not gratitude? It may not manifest itself in dogs the way it does in humans ("I owe you one", "What would I do without you?") but I think gratitude exists in dogs.

I also believe that my dogs "owe" me nothing, and every wonderful thing they do is a gift to me, not a payment.

Oh, and the whole "Rainbow Bridge" thing makes me want to hurl.


And in any case, I am not sure that humans ever REALLY love their animals "unconditionally." It's what we try for (if we do try for it) but (as we do with everything else) we have at best spotty successes with many failures.

(I think that's probably okay: spotty successes with many failures is better than not trying.)


Ha Ha That is funny. Copper reminds me of Nina. Opportunists til the day the die, but loveable little buggers just the same.


yeah, like copper would ever bow his head to anyone unless he thought it would score him a cookie.


the rescuers version is a bit different, it is not about long parted friends meeting again at the bridge as states quite clearly that the animals all stop and bow their heads in respect as the shining white rescuer crosses the rainbow bridge.


i love that poem about the rainbow bridge. i never felt it was about any animal bowing down to a human rescuer it was about the animal meeting wth the person who loved them unconditionally and them meeting them back.i always hoped to meet my very special soul dog maybe not a t the rainbow bridge but somewhere in time.i always felt good when i read that poem and i do not think it is sucky. i knowa that somewhere my boy will b e waiting for me.


"stupid, ego boosting tale of animals bowing low in gratitude to a human rescuer in a white robe"

I always hated that poem too and agree with your above statement.

Chris T

As usual, you have explained this really well. It is not about what the animals can give us it is about what we can give to them. We need nothing from our animals and anything they give is a gift - to be cherished for sure but never expected nor required.