When a video of a dog seemingly trying to rescue some fish -- by splashing water on them -- began making the rounds this week, netizens everywhere let out a collective “aww.” (Watch the video, above, to see why.) Though we’d love to believe the cute pup is showing a whole lot of compassion for his floundering friends, it’s possible the dog isn’t doing that at all.
As many skeptical Redditors have pointed out, the pooch may actually be trying to bury the fish with the water.
Addressing the question of why a dog would try to bury anything with water, Redditor "munificent" said: “My dog has done the ‘bury with nose thing’ on a bare carpet floor, on top of a bed, and on hardwood floors. … Once she tried to hide a toy by burying it under a sleeping baby.”
After watching the clip via Buzzfeed, a Facebook user noted the following: "A dog does not understand that a fish needs water to breathe. ... People need to stop putting human emotions onto animals."
Last year, an animal behavior expert said something similar in response to a viral video of a dog burying a dead puppy. While the video's description claimed the dog was "mourning" the younger animal, New York-based animal behavior consultant Peter Borchelt said at the time that the pooch was probably reacting instinctively to the sight of a dead body.
"I suspect it was more likely just caching dead meat, rather than a soulful response to the demise of a puppy that it wanted to bury," Borchelt told New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer, adding that humans and animals have "entirely different behavior systems" and that we should be cautious about equating the two.
Still, dogs are believed to have the capacity for empathy and grief. Plus, it's just hard to watch the video above and not cheer for the "rescue" effort, no matter the science or skepticism. We're only human, after all.