I saw a fascinating piece on ABC World News about the empathy of dogs, specifically regarding yawning. Apparently, researchers studied whether or not dogs would mimic when people yawned. And, in fact, dogs did yawn 69% of the time after a human yawned.
Yup, that's right. Someone studies this stuff.
Additionally, dogs empathize with humans and their moods. So yawning is a form of sleepy empathy.
After watching this on TV, I got off the couch, got down on my knees eye to eye with Charlie who was laying on the couch. I looked him in the face and gave a brilliant, big yawn. Charlie picked up his head, looked at me strangely, then put his head back down, and, sighed. No yawn.
I tried again.
My dog falls in the 31% of dogs who don't empathize. I know he yawns. He does it all the time.
Check out the video here: The Science of Yawns, Dogs and Empathy | Video - ABC News