Canine Empathy

Last summer my husband had emergency heart surgery. He was in the hospital for 11 days and I spent most of the time with him. God bless all of my friends for stepping up without me even asking, but my Gracie was shuffled all over the place during that time. I was very concerned how she would react when he came home.


I got my husband home and settled in. Then I went to get my Gracie. She knew something was up, because I usually take off her leash at the end of her walk, once we are inside our fenced yard. I kept her on the leash when I brought her inside the house, just in case. The last thing we wanted was her jumping on my husband in her excitement. We all know how it feels to be jumped on by a corgi.

The minute she spotted him she got all low and wiggly, like a shy puppy. Not at all like her usual excited self. She sort of crept over to him and slowly sniffed. Then she very gently got up on the couch with my husband. She gave him a couple of the lightest snuffles that I ever saw and then gently laid down next to him. Is this my rough and tumble tom-boy corgi??

She was gentle with him for about 3 months. She was her usual boisterous self with any visitors, nurses and therapists. And she never got in the way when they worked with him. She acted the same as usual with me, but got very concerned whenever I did something to my husband (dressing change, help with showering, etc.). Never stopped me, but watched really closely. And any time she got near my husband she reverted to the gentle dog. She also stuck to him like glue the entire time.

It's been 10 months since his surgery. As he got better, she acted more and more like her old self. But she still sticks close. Definitely Daddy's little girl.

I think that corgis, like most dogs, are very tuned in to their people and they react. My first corgi did something similar when my husband was in the hospital years ago for 3 days for hand surgery. Only difference was she ate his leather wallet when I brought it home. It smelled like him!

Mary Kaminski, owned by Gracie CardiPants
Philadelphia, PA