Dr. Jennifer Coates is a veterinarian in Colorado who writes for petMD's blog.
In a recent post, she brought up the question… can our pets love us?
She defines love as a willingness to put someone else's best interests in front of your own.
She has a horse and was talking with the manager of her horse's barn.
"I think one of the biggest mistakes that people make is thinking that their horses love them."
She goes on to talk about how when she's riding her horse, and something spooks it, it will throw her immediately because it goes into self preservation mode.
Sure, the horse will feel bad after throwing her and walk over to her and nuzzle her but that's after completely pulling an "every man for himself" stunt.
When thinking about if a cat can love, she brings up the old quote:
"Dogs have owners; cats have staff."
A cat may look on your service with affection because of what it gets out of it, but that's about it.
When it comes to dogs, she feels completely differently.
There are always stories of dogs putting themselves in harm's way for their owner's sake.
She gives a specific anecdote about how one time her dog protected her from a scary, deadly stick.
"I was walking down the side of the road with my dachshund-beagle-corgi named Owen when I accidentally kicked a smallish branch covered in dry leaves. It made a horrendous cracking-scratching-rattling noise.
Owen jumped in front of me with fangs bared, fur raised, and eyes shining with hate tinged by a little fear, ready to protect me from the evil beastie that dared threaten his person.
I was so proud of my little guy! I made a big fuss over him to ease his embarrassment after he realized what the "threat" really was."
So we should all be able to agree a dog is capable of loving us, but we're not so sure about our other pets…