I once read somewhere (I cannot locate the source right now) that dogs pick up our emotions through the subtle changes in scent caused my our mood/hormonal changes. They can tell when we are elated or morose without having to read our expressions or body language or the tone in our voices. Dogs are amazingly loyal beings, and I find that very inspirational.
Speaking of pets, I have watched Hatchiko. It is a touching story. The movie buff in me would be embarrassed if I had to say no to a “have you watched…?” question. Also about dogs, the behaviour of sharing their favourite possessions with us to cheer us up when we are down… It’s so effortlessly selfless, something humans can only hope of being. I have massive respect for that genus of animals (or is it family? Or species? My biology was always weak). There are more amazing titbits about dogs, like the hormone secreted in its brain (equivalent to oxytocin) upon seeing us (as in, people it recognises) is the same as the one it secretes upon seeing its puppies, which means it shows us the same love, possessiveness and urge to be protective, as it feels towards its own children.
The other titbit I like about the dog is its psychology towards the human(s) it is loyal to. A dog will try its hardest never to show its pain or weakness to us, which it supposedly perceives as betrayal, which is why in its final days, when it knows its end is near, it will attempt to keep a distance from us. It is their way of avoiding us the pain of watching them in their weakest hour. They even prefer, if given the chance, to go far away from our sight and die alone. That is why, prior to this concept of keeping dogs collared and leashed and close to us, when pets roamed freely in the villages, you never saw an old dying dog, because they did not like to hang around when their time had come. A dog will only depend on us for care when it knows it has something to offer in return- like love, protection and affection in general. It does not do one-sided relationships.
The psychology of a dog, the subtle self respect it possesses that we do not seem to recognise, is as amazing as it is inspirational. All animals are adorable, not just dogs. Heck, all humans are adorable too. Nature is beautiful. But because we have a brain and we can talk, there is deceit and distrust and hatred in our society.
The Labrador is my favourite dog breed because it is so cute, and intelligent, and protective, and playful, yet highly disciplined if trained right (the police and the military employs them), but to answer your other question, if I were to get one, I would adopt a native Indian dog. The labrador is not meant for the hot and humid climate and diet in south India. It is a furry animal, and does well in the temperate, not the tropics.
What many people do not realise is that the Indian Native Dog (also called the Indog) is an extremely good breed. It just does not get its due because it is so common here, we have a problem of overpopulation and strays. The Indog is the aboriginal landrace of India. “Being a naturally evolved breed, they have very few health concerns and thrive with minimal maintenance, especially in tropical weather. The skin needs very little grooming and the dogs themselves are relatively clean. They have no body odour. Genetic health ailments like hip dysplasia and so on are extremely rare since there is no inbreeding and the dominant genes that aid their survival are naturally selected over time.” (Source: Wikipedia) The Indog would be an exotic breed anywhere else, but in India, most of us treat it with disrespect. All my knowledge of dogs is from growing up watching this breed, so it is my second favourite after the Labrador.