When a woman has a child, she experiences a bond unlike any other. There’s no denying the incredible love a mother has for her child— and this relationship extends to the canine world. When a female dog has puppies, her priorities instantly shift to their safety. While some may consider this to be a simple case of “animal instincts”, I think there’s more at play.
When Harper was born, she and her mother shared an incredibly close bond. Like most mama dogs, Harper’s mum would whine and pace when she was apart from her babies. When they were nursing, she would curl her body around them in protection, giving them doggy kisses and cuddling them in love. Eventually, however, it was time for the puppies to be weaned.
When Harper turned 11 weeks old, she was adopted and separated from her mother.
Yes, yes, it sounds tragic, but we all know this is generally the time puppies go live on their own. So, Harper moved in with her new owner and basked in her independent “teenage” puppy life.
Fast-forward to four months later.
In this adorable video, you see the moment when Harper is once again reunited with her mom!
The 74-second clip begins by showing a small video of Harper interacting with her mum before being adopted. The scene quickly shifts to the family vehicle, where we see Harper getting ready for her trip. It’s unlikely the pup has any idea what’s going on at this point, but hey— we’re building some suspense!
Soon the moment of truth arrives. Will Harper and her mother recognize each other?
Is it even possible?
I recently discovered an article by the famous doggie psychologist Stanley Coren which seems to address the issue. In the article, Coren describes a series of studies conducted by Peter Hepper from the School of Psychology at the Queens University Belfast in Northern Ireland.
To determine whether dogs could recognize their mothers, Hepper did an experiment where he placed a mother dog in a pen and a strange dog (of the same age and breed) in a different pen on the other side of the room. He then let the mother dog’s puppies come in and measured how much time they spent near each pen “attending” to the dog in that place. The results? A whopping 84% of the puppies seemed to recognize and prefer hanging out with their moms.
Hepper believed scent cues are what help dogs differentiate their mothers. His later studies seemed to confirm these results— as well as the idea that dogs can, indeed, recognize their relatives:
- 67 % of puppies showed a preference for their sibling
- 82% of puppies showed a preference for cloth that had absorbed their mom’s scent
- 78% of mothers showed a preference for cloth that had absorbed their puppies’ scent
- 70% of puppies show a preference for their own littermates
- And 76% of adult dogs prefer cloth that had absorbed their puppies’ scent —even after not seeing her for two whole years.
Alright, so it’s possible Harper will recognize her mum — but as Coren notes, “[the studies] do not tell us how that former puppy, having now reached adulthood, will act” once its mother is around.
Luckily, we have this heart-melting video, so you can get a glimpse first-hand. For the sake of science, of course.
Watch the heart-melting reunion below!
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