Debbie Custance is a lecturer at Goldsmiths College, Department of Psychology, London. She coauthored a study titled, 'Empathic-like responding by domestic dogs to distress in humans: An exploratory study'.
The study tested how dogs respond to someone pretending to cry and be in distress. The majority of dogs came over to the person crying in a way that seemed to express empathic concern. "When the stranger pretended to cry, rather than approaching their usual source of comfort, their owner, dogs sniffed, nuzzled and licked the stranger instead. The dogs’ pattern of response was behaviorally consistent with an expression of empathic concern..."