Sure, but if you have ever had a dog, that statement is pretty unremarkeable, that Dogs can have empathy. The reality is that someone at Emory University has finally proved it with science.
I can tell you empirically that when I'm down, my own Lettie will cling closer. That doesn't always have the desired effect because then she's in the Clumsy Moose Zone.
Basically science is able to tell that dogs are paying attention to your more subtle clues, and we've all heard the stories. Dogs that will sniff a specific spot and you find out later that there's an infection there. Dogs that are helpers that can tell when the person is about to have a seizure.
We have co-evolved for many years now, and Dogs are the first domesticated species. Just like living with anyone, we don't always get it right, but they're excellent judges of what goes on.
My own Lettie may be the Canine Ambassador to Snowbirds for Wilton Manors, but she's an amazingly good judge of character. She's better at it than I am. In fact, if my dog doesn't like you, chances are I won't either. She won't go near a drunk snowbird, or even a local, trust me on that one!
So if you would like the chance to see the discussion and have five minutes for the story, click on the video below and the next time that crazy dog person says that their pooch understands them, there is some basis for that.
One side note, of course they had to use a Border Collie or Mc Nab Cross ... Smartest of all dogs! Now cats on the other hand? Since I have allergies to cats, I'll just say I can't get close enough to tell how smart they are and leave it at that!