Hey everybody,

About 10 years ago, when I was a child and used to spend summer in a village, I had a she-friend there. She had a female German Shepherd puppy named Ada. I loved to be with them both; we had walks, played, enjoyed the nature, and so on. Playing fetch was one of our favourite time spending, hehe. But when the summer was over, I had to return to the city, so did my friend. When I was back to the village the next summer, I was a little bit afraid to come to my friend's house because the puppy had grown up, and I didn't have any idea whether Ada remembered me and how she would "greet" me (usually she barked at strangers). To my surprise, as soon as Ada saw me, she started to wave her tail, sniff me all around, lick my hands, yelp a little and show all other signs of happiness. That WAS astonishing because I didn't expect her to recognize me! Well, I knew too little about dogs' memory. Emotion: smile This warm greeting repeated every summer. Apparently, I became Ada's childhood friend.

So, how long is a dog's memory span? Some people say that it is as long as the dog lives unless it gets senile. Some say dogs can remember their former owners they have not seen up to 8 years. In my case, Ada remembered me throughout her life even though I was not her owner, we just used to play together. 

What is your experience of having or meeting dogs that remembered you all their life?
It's a difficult question to answer, because first you have to determine what you define as memory.
The short answer: as long as it's important to them. (just like us)

From: http://www.seefido.com/html/dog_memory.htm

To be able to make a somewhat complete analysis about the span of dog memory, it is important to differentiate between associative memory and real memory. It is said that if a dog does not have some sort of exterior stimulus that he is not able to think about or remember parks or places he has been in before. But as soon as dog hears his owner's voice, smells him or perceives his presence at a distance, his associative memory activates or comes to life.

This same type of reaction seems to happen to people that have not seen each other in months or years and their immediate reaction is as if no time had gone by at all. Some veterinarians say that after a dog has been away or separated from his owner for over ten hours and after the dog's tension and desperation has gone from having left his home and owner, that the dog is then able to inverse the situation. It seems that the dog is able to change the hostile or anxious feelings he had...
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Dogs do remember everything very well. You didn't have to be afraid to come back. Considering that you were playing when Ada was a puppy, she propably remembered you throughout her life!
I've heard that different breeds have a different memory span, but basically it is around several years. Cool eh!
Well I just know that they do remember at least a year.

I travel abroad every year to visit my family. My grandparents had two dogs and every time we arrived and stopped the car in front of the gate they started barking, defending their territory, but as soon as one of of gor out to open the gate so we could get the car inside, (even in the middle of the night witch it usually was/is) their behaviour changed like 180 degrees. They recognize us, no doubt. Emotion: smile ears backwards and crying of happiness. it was so cute Emotion: smile

The same happens with my aunt and uncles' dog every year. When I'm there at summertime I'm usually the one who feeds him and changes his water several times a day when it's really hot. And the one who goes outside to pat him in the morning. And the one who walks with him from time to time, and he remembers that. I'm his favorite when we are there because I'm the one who gives him most attention Emotion: smile again, its enough to get out of the car and call his name and he is barking and crying, eventhough he only sees me once a year.
It seems their reactions are so similar! Whatever country a dog is in, at first it starts barking at you fiercely, but as soon as it recognizes you - it becomes the sweetest creature in the world! Emotion: big smile
 hitchhiker's reply was promoted to an answer.
Dogs do have great memories. Just look at how these dogs greet their owner after 14 months of his being in Iraq! It does look like they have been missing him and now they are incredibly happy. So, 14 months is not a time for a dog to forget its owner, proved!

I have seen some absolutely gorgeous videos on the internet of men returning back from Iraq and what not to be greeted by their dogs going crazy with happiness. It's beautiful to know that an animal will wait that long for you and show all that emotion and love for you. In one video there was a dog who couldnt sit still he was that happy that he kept running around and crying in happiness. Dogs are amazing things, I think that when a connection is made like that its hard to lose.
I am extremely interested in this topic as we now have a Rescue dog; a Borzoi who had undergone horrific abuse and no/little socialization,

along with her kennel mates; we have had her two months now and she is good with me but still very scared of 'normal' living things and very skittish of other people; I figure it will take her at least a year to get really comfortable but I also do wonder if she will ever forget what she lived through for 3-4 years; will she gradually forget that and/or will the new good memories/experiences eventually block the old bad ones out? Any advice, opinions etc. would be appreciated; she has really had a rough time of it and we are completely willing to be patient but really want things to be good for her. Thank you!!
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