Dogs, reunited with their owners, cry tears of joy

Dogs literally cry tears of joy when they see their owners after they’ve been away, scientists have found in the first study of its kind that is also totally going to make us cry, too.

Published in the Current Biology journal, this study by Japanese researchers found not only that dogs shed happy tears, but also that the love hormone oxytocin — the same one that causes humans to feel emotional bonds with each other and with animals — may be underlying that mechanism.

Researcher and paper co-writer Takefumi Kikusui of Azabu University in Japan said in a press release about the study that he first began to wonder about oxytocin tears in dogs when his standard poodle gave birth to puppies about six years ago. He noticed then that his dog had tears in her eyes as she nursed the puppies, and has been fascinated by the topic ever since.

My parents bought my first dog for me when I was 5 years old. An Alaskan Husky, his name was Hank. And that’s about all I can put down on this page, right now.

Just in case you wonder how “Har!” made it into my vocabulary?

There is nothing quite like a bit of spring sunshine for raising the spirits. It seems instantly to chase away the gloom that has descended during the dark winter days, and most of us will have been invigorated by this year’s Easter sunshine.

For those who live near the east coast, however, it was not a case of wall-to-wall sunshine. From time to time, there were unwelcome visits from an old friend, the haar

In Scotland, a haar is a kind of sea fog which creeps in from the North Sea to cover the area near the east coast when the rest of the country is basking in brilliant sunshine.

An east coast haar, pronounced like far, is a deeply depressing experience. It is not as if any warmth remains amidst the fog. Far from it. A haar is not only dark, dank and damp, but often so cold that it seems to penetrate your very bones. Those of us who live in haar country should be used to it by now, but it often catches us by surprise…

Sometimes the haar deals out even crueller treatment. We awake to rejoice in the brilliant sunshine – then the haar descends about mid-morning, just as we have assembled the picnic things and the beach umbrella. The sunshine that we were enjoying has been callously taken away from us…

The word haar originally referred to a cold easterly wind before it took on its cold fog meaning, and it is derived from a Low German and Middle Dutch word hare, meaning a biting cold wind. The biting cold part has stayed with us.

When I left the northeast coast of the United States – as my grandparents left the east coast of PEI – I discovered that a cold easterly wind, quite common in a New Mexico winter, often gives way to a clearing breeze from the northeast and eventually sunshine and warming. I have tempered what is a dour comment in my ethnic past with clear skies and sunlight – which is after all a sign of hope.

Har has become reasonably positive – with a remembrance of irony.