I’ve heard a lot of people say that to ascribe the capacity for regret to animals is anthropomorphizing. My response is always you clearly haven’t spent much time with animals. What animals do goes way, way beyond human projections, and they have, among other things, a fully developed language for acknowledging wrongdoing and considering missed opportunities.
It’s our human words, and our ways of talking about it, that get factually sketchy – but also funny.
Here’s a nice piece in the NYT that has both the humility to look at what they actually do, and the humor to spin it through our human culture (without forgetting that they have cultures of their own):
Yet as new reports keep appearing — moping coyotes, rueful monkeys, tigers that cover their eyes in remorse, chimpanzees that second-guess their choices — the more I wonder if animals do indulge in a little paw-wringing.
Your dog may not share Hamlet’s dithering melancholia, but he might have something in common with Woody Allen.