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Lea Thompson
English 1103
Topic Proposal: Is Mans Best Friend Really a Best Friend?
The dog, mans best friend, is perhaps the most popular fluffy companion in all of the
world. There is no question about it, dog really is mans best friend. just scan any sidewalk,
neighborhood or local park to find dozens of perfect pairs enjoying the day together side by side.
What Im curious to know concerns the depths of human/K9 interaction, communication and
emotion and how one affects the other. However, because it is quite obvious how humans are
affected by the feelings/well-being of their furry friends, I thought it would be interesting to
delve into the emotions, empathy and awareness of dogs and put a label on the human/K9
relationshipone sided or not? The debate on a dogs sense of sadness, happiness, fear etc., has
intrigued many scientists(List some of the scientists maybe) who have done their fair share of
research on this topic as well. According to previous studies, dogs have the ability to differentiate
between human emotions from signs such as facial expressions, but this is not the same as
emotional connection, says Dr. Kun Guo from the University of Lincolns School of
Philosophy. In order to continue with this research, an experiment was performed with 17
untrained, domestic dogs and both positive and negative sounds and pictures. From this
experiment, it was concluded that dogs can integrate two different sources of sensory
information into a perception of emotion.
Thus far, Ive focused my research on articles Ive found online. My sister in law is a vet
tech. I am curious to ask her opinion on the subject and ask if there is any information she or one

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of her co-workers could provide me(include this in your next steps paragraph instead). I also
have a book at home called What the Dog Knows, a book focused on how dogs perceive the
world and will be continuing my research with help from that book.
While researching the topic, I found an article that disagrees with the statement that dogs
are able to connect with humans on an emotional level and instead used research from Descartes,
a French philosopher and scientist that compared dogs to machines convinced that they simply
act and do not feel. Later, Nicolas De Malebranch extended Descartes idea and said that
animals eat without pleasure, cry without pain, act without knowing it: they desire nothing, fear
nothing, know nothing. Websites with articles like Modern Dog Magazine often have opposing
viewpoints and allow perspective into each side. I like this because it shows your topic has
controversy which means its complex
Initial Inquiry Question
My initial inquiry question is:
In what ways (If at all) do dogs relate to/sense/ empathize with their owners emotions/moods?
My Interest in this Topic
With two awesome dogs at home, a sister in law with an out-of-this-world love for
animals and a tender spot in my own heart dedicated to mans best friend, I couldnt help but
allow my original topic idea of human on human communication/interaction to gradually shift to
a much cuter topic of human and K9 interaction. Ive had 4 dogs total in a span of 18 years and
have always felt, in some way or another, emotionally connected to them. How could I not when
Ive personally experienced what seemed to be my dogs mood saddening while watching me cry
over a breakup or come running down the driveway to save me when I crashed my bike as a kid?
Dogs have always been a huge part of my life and my family, and I am sure they will remain that

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way too so what better to do research on than something that in some way or another will always
be a constant in your life and probably is in many other peoples as well? While I am aware of
how intelligent dogs are with their ability to learn commands such as sit, shake, roll over etc, I
am curious to know the depths of a K9s intellectual and emotional intelligence.
Next Steps
While continuing to read articles online, I will also be looking into the book I mentioned
previously called, What the Dog Knows, and hopefully finding information relative to my
topic. I also thought it might be interesting to look into articles/books/the process of certifying a
dog as a self-help or emotional assistance dog to uncover the reasons why dogs (animals) may be
beneficial to your health. Websites like and Modern Dog Magazine will also
provide articles specific to my topic. In order to be confident in reliable information, I will strive
to find books or databases in the library concerning my topic as well.

I like how you included the opposing opinion on if dogs have feelings. Expand on that so readers
know the complexity of the topic. Including experiments is very interesting and makes the
argument stronger. What do you know so far? What do you want to know? Be careful of run on