The nose knows
In a fascinating recently published study, researchers have found that for our dogs, the smell of us triggers the part of the brain strongly associated with pleasurable expectations. Although the paper is predictably complicated to read through for someone like me not trained in neurophysiology, the bit I did get was that the study suggests that dogs seem to respond to the scent of us with similar pleasurable emotions to what happens with us if we see pictures of loved ones. Reading any canine psychological literature, there are always plenty of caveats about drawing firm conclusions about the emotional realm of dogs, but I like this study as it sums up what I see daily with my girls: they recognise me with clear and abundant joy and expectation. Simple.
For a more academic perspective, here’s the paper