The Hairy Hambone in: GUILTY!

By now I’m assuming many of you have seen Denver the Guilty dog. If not, it’s worth it.

The behaviorists will tell you, over and over again: Stop anthropomorphizing your pets. They do not feel shame or guilt.

I don’t know about that. For all the protesting that dogs forget what naughty things they did 5 seconds after committing the crime, that these intelligent beings simply disavow all knowledge and memory of their actions and are merely responding to our own disapproval, I know of way too many dogs like little Denver above who seem to embody just the opposite.

“They are just responding to your disapproval!” is the standard line. But what if you aren’t exhibiting any disapproval since you had no idea a crime was committed? Brody is the king of tipping his hand. No matter how happy or excited I am to see him, if he’s done something wrong his remorse wracked posturing gives him away. In fact, that’s the main reason I know to go hunting for some destroyed item or eaten delicacy.

And with that, I present the sequel to the Hairy Hambone: GUILTY!

My comic

My comic

My comic

My comic

My comic

I know it’s hard to believe, but I’ve never been formally trained in art. Those with talent, please forgive me.

So what say you? Do your pets carry a guilty conscience or do they float along oblivious to their transgressions?

Filed: Blog, Daily Life, Goofball Antics Tagged: , ,
  • I’ve noticed that when Dahlia has gotten into something (usually the butter…*sigh*) she greets me in a really overly frantic way. I know it’s “anthropomorphizing” but it almost seems like she thinks if she greets me with wild abandon I’ll forgive her transgression. I just KNOW she’s gotten into something when she greets me that way.

  • I love your illustrations!

  • Lisa W

    Oscar doesn’t seem to have any sense of guilt until he is confronted, and even then he just kind of looks at you with his “but I’m really sweet and I’m really cute and you really love me a lot, don’t you” look, but Sophie does the same little lip curl thing that Denver does in the video!

  • Rose D.

    My Eesa knows full well when she has done something naughty. She’ll try to distract me, compleate with rolling onto her back and purring and giving kisses so I won’t find what she did.

    • Rose D.

      Also, my sister’s dog will do something naughty, then when my sister comes home, her dog will instantly run to the kitchen (her punishment spot).

  • Kim

    It may not be a guilt the way we do. We may feel bad about it. They feel bad because they know otherwise and do it anyhow…and know what the reaction will be when they get caught. Not the same thing but close enough to what we might understand as guilt.

    I think that’s fine. Anthropomorphizing your pets by marrying them and such? I think that point against it is quite valid.

  • Lisa

    After how many times I have watched my cat frantically dig at the carpet trying to bury a throw up accident (he gets hair balls sometimes), I have to believe he feels guilt. He also does it when the other cat throws up, which I find totally adorable – I can’t help but think that he either doesn’t want her to get in trouble, or doesn’t want to take the blame for her mistake. Either way the frantic look on his face spells it all out.

  • georgie

    My childhood terrier would pout when disciplined. She would voluntarily sit facing a wall, with her back towards us. My cat tries to cover booboos-including if she comes across dog poo in the yard.

  • My beloved Relampago would confess the second he thought anyone was asking questions, even if he had an iron clad alibi and had nothing to do with the crime. Chispa, on the other hand, could withstand hours of interrogation, presented with mounds of evidence without so much as blinking or betraying herself in any way. My Crianza was pretty good at maintaining her cool, and my goofus puppy Celosa admits to pretty much everything, and tries to wiggle out of punishment by being exceedingly cute. It usually works.

  • As Kim says, they may not feel guilt the way we feel it. But most dogs I know want to please the people they love. And when they displease them, I think they have a response similar to guilt.

  • Bella’s the same way… it’s like she knows I’ll find it it a minute and is just preparing herself… poor pup.

    PS – love the art. 🙂

  • Jan

    One of my Poodles is incapable of guilt no matter what the transgression. Another dog makes a full confession to things that happened even before she came to live with us

  • Cathey

    Well, Lizzie, just yesterday did ‘something’ – we’re not sure what as we haven’t found it yet (we are ready for a possible EEK or D#$%& moment). She was at the back of her kennel and wouldn’t come out until my husband told her she was a good dog and he loved her. If you look at her crosswise, she’ll apologizing in kisses for a week!

    Bailey, the Westie on the other hand, could care less what we think of her and her actions. She’s “queen of the jungle” and makes no bones about the fact that we are there only to serve – remorse? She’s never heard of it!

  • Deanna

    This is freakin’ adorable!

    My dog gives herself away instantly, I don’t have to see any horror, but she lets me know there is some… It started when she was a puppy, my dad also had a puppy at the same time, so if someone pooped it was “What’d you do??” and the guilty party would smile.
    Now, if I come in and there’s a surprise somewhere, she smiles at me, puts her head down, goes to her crate, and wags her tail supremely fast. Usually she’s crated when I’m not home though, so she just smiles and hides in the back if she had an accident. Not that she has a lot of accidents, but yeah, she’s a turkey.
    No one believes me when I say my dog smiles, she does it when she’s happy to see you as well (and it’s followed by maniacal sneezing and tail wagging so hard it feels like some kind of bone whip), I feel like she gives her self away apologizing so she doesn’t get into trouble.. It doesn’t work. I dunno why she smiles, but it’s cute. She will automatically smile now if you ask her “What’d you do?” …my fiancé finds it hilarious.

  • Tonya

    Love the artwork! How fun!
    My previous lab, Shaq, was definitely a guilty dog. When I saw that video of Denver on TV, I immediately thought of Shaq! He went through a bout of separation anxiety, ripping up full boxes of tissue with abandon when we left the house. We would return to find him at the top of the stairs, his eyes almost closed, and he would not make eye contact with us. That was our clue that something was not right in Denmark.

  • I lived with a Lab who had the grace to show guilt when she had misbehaved. Not Daisy however! If she isn’t caught in the act, “yahudy” did it, not her!

  • Amber

    I don’t know which way I feel, but I do know that the dog in that video is not just feeling guilty, he’s afraid of the repercussions of his actions. It doesn’t mean he’ll stop doing them (He can’t link a punishment now with an action hours ago, even children can’t) but he’s always going to be afraid when his owner comes home and waves the bag of treats in his face. Because as far as he is concerned, it’s very punishing. Even if the man had never physically hurt him, he’s scared of being talked to like that.

    Jasper always looks guilty the second he’s done something wrong. We keep telling him, if you’re going to do bad things, at least pretend you haven’t! But no, he’s terrible =)

  • Allie

    Maybe our boys have us totally snowed, but identifying the guilty party (always the same boy) is easy. And I agree, unless the mess is at the door I usually see the guilty behavior before I see the transgression. My other boy is either a very good dog or a very good actor. 🙂

  • I’m not sure if they feel guilt, but they (some of them, at least) surely know (and care…) when I am going to be displeased when I find out what happened………….

  • Lea

    I’m so relieved someone else sees this too! My Lab Mix won’t come to the door if he did bad stuff. I asked a trainer about this, after she assured me that dogs have no sense of guilt or remorse. She said he was picking up on my vibes too, which was malarkey. He knows! That’s why he waits until I leave to go into the trash can!

  • Tassia

    Q knows when she’s been bad, but she takes the offensive approach like, “Yeah, I did that, but YOU let it happen. This is on you.”

    Chewy, on the other hand, has a very guilty conscience. When she does something bad, the second she sees one of us coming, she’s under the table, ears down, belly in the air.

  • Love your drawings!! I always know when Layla does something bad, like pooping on the living room rug or eating an entire bag of treats off my desk. She comes slinking in to wherever I am, tail wagging between her legs and her head down, looking up at me as if to say “I’m really sorry but I couldn’t help myself and I love you don’t be mad at me I’m sorry!!”