In our life, we have rescued 5 wonderful dogs who spent many special years with our family. When we decided our 12 year old golden retriever mix needed a friend, we brought in a 6 week old retriever mix who was the runt of the litter. Our golden, Brandy, immediately assumed the role of Alpha Dog but would play with Magic. When Brandy died, Magic’s grief was overwhelming and we got a German Shepherd/Malamute /Wolf with the personality of a cat.  Once Baskerville came out of the anesthesia, she became the Alpha Dog. For Magic, it was love at first sight. Baskerville did not share the intensity of Magic’s love, but enjoyed Magic’s company. Unfortunately, Basky died at 6 years and we got another Golden Retriever/mix, Obi. Magic at that time became the Alpha Dog and Obi was content in his role of being #2. When Magic passed, we got an American Labrador Retriever who started out mellow and 70 lbs and has ended up the Alpha Dog and 124lbs.

The two dogs acknowledge each other daily. They don’t play together. They don’t sleep together. I think they tolerate each other. But one thing I know, if we pay too much attention to one of them, the other sulks and gets depressed. The sad eyes, the lack of energy, the lack of a tail wag, all easily cured by massive attention and petting.

Now a study has come out from the University of California San Diego which supports there is a more basic form of jealousy in dogs. (What is more basic than jealous?)

Dr. Christine Harris, a professor of psychology and a former student worked with 36 dogs, videotaping owners ignoring their pets while petting and talking sweetly to stuffed, animated dogs. A pair of independent workers watched the videos for behavior like aggression or attention-seeking. When people interacted with the stuffed animals, their dogs pushed or touched the fake dogs 78% of the time; tried to get between the owner and toy 30% of the time and snapped the fake dog 25% of the time. Dr. Harris believes the dogs saw the stuffed animals as rivals.

“When they see a loved one show affection toward another what appears to be a real being, they engage in real behaviors to try and draw the affection back to them. That’s what you see in humans, too.” Harris said she is not claiming a dog’s “internal experience” mirrors that humans, because it’s impossible to know.

I don’t care what you call it. It’s some form of jealousy and anyone who has multiple pets, be it dogs or cats or both, know it really exists.