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Dog passes out from ‘overwhelming joy’ - but is that normal?

Screen shot from YouTube

Ask most dog owners: The sheer joy of a canine's greeting can turn even the worst day around.

Most dogs wiggle and squeal, struggling to contain their excitement at their owner's return. But most dogs have some work to do, since the bar has been set higher by one now-Internet famous pooch.

Casey, a schnauzer from Pennsylvania, perhaps the most excited dog on the Internet, was very overwhelmed to see a family member after two years. She collapses from the sheer joy, after a few seconds of cuddling, and garnered over 20 million YouTube views doing so. (Headphone wearers beware: the yelping is serious.)

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According to the YouTube description, the pooch was checked out by a veterinarian and is absolutely fine. But leave it to skeptical Internet commenters to ruin the fun:

"That looked more like a seizure to me," writes one. "My dog did that.. and never got up," writes another.

So is it normal for a dog to get so overwhelmed by joy that she faints? Is there serious cause for concern here?

"I felt bad laughing but watching that, you can't help but laugh," says Caryn Charlie Liles, trainer and owner at Whatta Pup! in Toronto, of the viral video.

Some owners are too rambunctious themselves when they greet their dogs, causing the dog to go into serious excitement overload, Liles says (this dog owner is guilty as charged), but "that's not really the case here. I suspect there's an underlying medical condition, like narcolepsy or cataplexy... That's not a normal response for a normal dog."

Liles says Casey's overwhelming excitement reminds her of a similar animal Internet phenomenon, other animals who, when nervous or startled, pass out momentarily. "You know, it's like those fainting goats." (warning: hours of your day may be lost.)

Whether this is an involuntary medical issue or true "overwhelming joy" as the description suggests, is a point of Internet contention.

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Could a dog actually remember someone she hasn't seen for two years? "Absolutely she can," says Liles. "Dogs are emotional creatures through domestication - they're definitely prone to emotional outbursts. I believe dogs don't forget people who have made an impact on their life," she says.

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About the Author
Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More

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