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Does Our Dog Miss Us When We Go On Vacation?

I miss my dogs terribly when I'm traveling. But, do my dogs miss me is the more important question? The answer may surprise you.

Juliet in front of Buckingham Palace December 2021

As most of the world gets back to work and school after a nice, long summer vacation, I'm about to head off to Europe. My husband and I met too late to have children. So, all the money we'd spend on Pampers and college tuition, we spend on travel. I'm not leaving til the end of September, but I literally already have my clothes picked out and ready to pack.

Yes, this is real. A month away and I'm already organized for London and Venice.

So why does my heart ache? Because despite not having human children, I do have furbabies. Winston "Winnie" and Ludwig "Wiggie" are my little princess and prince, and the thought of being away from them for almost two weeks leaves me feeling all kinds of distress. Of course, I'll miss them. But more worrisome to me is the fear that they're going to miss us. My mom and her dog, Cheeto, will be here pet-sitting. But while they're great, let's be honest, they're no us.
Which got me thinking: am I overreacting? Do dogs really miss us when we're gone?
The answer is a definitive yes.
According to a 2013 study in Psychology Today, dogs most certainly know we're gone because they do understand the concept of "the passing of time". Researchers used "Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to measure the minute changes in blood flow that go along with brain activity. Their findings were pretty interesting: Dogs start missing us the moment we leave. And for the next two hours, their fret and longing for us grows. That's the bad news.
The good news is, beyond those two hours, their gloom begins to even out, until they see us again.
So, time your departure with a distraction - like a doggie playdate. Or maybe have a close relative or friend stop by, someone Fido knows and likes. They can't replace us, but they can soothe those moments of gloom.
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