People with dogs like to tell you that only a dog can truly love you. Like Coke is any better than Pepsi. They will tell you that a study was done that showed that dog’s brains would indicate a love for their owners.
Of course we have studied how other animals feel about us because. The reason is simple, we’re not about to communicate with them in a common language. So it is a best guess scenario on both of our parts to understand one another. Either of us can only surmise from the others behaviors what the intention is which leads us to this; yes, many animals not just dogs are capable of strong and questionably rational attachment to their human companions.
That means that while I hear your argument, I simply do not agree with your final results.
My cat follows me around when I get up. She doesn’t really want anything material from me in doing this. She wants to be with me. I know this because she often ignores offers of playtime or food, which used to be one of her biggest pastimes until we started to put her on a more regulated diet. She simply wants to be near me, nothing more. She sleeps on my lap when I let her. Usually when I’m watching something or I’m’ playing video games. When I go to bed she sleeps between my legs at first but by the time I wake up she is tucked up next to me under the blankets. When I come home she will sometimes cry. It isn’t like you and I cry, it is more a mournful meow that lasts a minutes if I ignore her. She wants attention, companionship and love. This can be in the form or her cries, but she will also tap me on the arm. When I get up instead of petting she will reach out and try to hold on to me and pull me back.
My mom feeds her and gives her her treats, as far as giving her too many of them for her own good. And yet, even though I am away at work and studying and I am not directly involved in her feeding she shows me a great deal of affection to the point of being a distraction. Everything form: play, grooming, snuggling, need and want of attention and companionship. She doesn’t beg for food with me like she does with my parents, probably because she does not associate me with food. But she still wants to be around me.
When I traveled to Norway for a semester to study abroad she would have probably forgotten about me had she not loved and missed me. Instead when my mom and I skyped she was there and would rub her head on the screen. Missed her a lot during that time for what it is worth.
This is love. And that is not even a colloquially, yes.
Because here is the thing, measuring that for people is not really possible either.