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The Human Animal Bond | How pets play a larger role

Guest Post Friday is our series which shares funny pet bloggers, and smart dog lovers, pet industry influencers and animal advocates. With lots of fascinating people involved in making a difference in the lives of animals this is our way of sharing them across the Grouchy Puppy community.

Our latest installment is from a passionate pet advocate we met two years ago.

The Human Animal Bond

I am head of a multi-pet household. I share my home with two cats and three birds. I am never alone. I maintain connections with my parents, siblings, friends, and extended family, but I consider the moments I spend with my pets some of the most important in my day. In times of stress or turmoil, they are there for me. I can’t imagine my life without them.

From the early days of human history, animals have had an impact on our lives, but in the 19th century, when we started bringing them into our homes as companions, the relationship began to deepen. Now, the majority of homes in the United States have at least one pet.
Cleo throws down the cute when you come home

Those of us who share our lives with animals believe we are the better for it. Modern society is impersonal. We once relied on our neighbors and family connections, but now technology gives us the illusion of greater independence, and fewer meaningful connections as a result. The connections we have are closer to home, centered on family, but families are changing too, becoming geographically scattered. Our families are smaller, family units more fluid. As a result, pets have taken on a larger role in our lives. For many of us, pets are family.

Pets bring a remarkable richness to our lives. The bonds we form with our pets can be as strong as, or stronger than, the bonds we form with spouses, parents, or children. When asked what pet ownership offers, we often reply, “Unconditional love,” and whether it is true or not, it is what we perceive. That joyous greeting at the door when we come home – the dog’s wagging tail, the cat’s gentle winding about our legs, the happy call of a bird – is, to our minds, a sign of welcome. It is a sign that we are valued, and in an increasingly impersonal world, that carries weight. Or hearts swell to be so needed and important in another’s life.

And pets offer even more. Society usually measures us against an ideal. Our pets, on the other hand, do not. They don’t care about our appearance, our age, our intelligence, or our net worth. They care only about who we are, how kind we are, how willing to share our lives with them. They appreciate us – in success and in failure – and keep us grounded in the moment, because that is where they live. In a world that has us forever looking toward tomorrow, living in the moment is invaluable.

People today are under pressure on many fronts to succeed in a society where the world is our competition. Our pets offer respite from this continual striving and the feelings that come with it. In the moments we spend them, we can let go of our stress and feel joy and solace. Studies have shown that having pets reduces the stress in our lives. Play, laughter, and the simple act of stroking an animal’s fur have been shown to reduce anxiety and lower stress levels. Pets can give those who live alone a reason to get up in the morning, to enjoy the day. Having a pet can help us all form bonds with others. How many friendships are formed while our dogs play in the park? Have you ever attended a cat show, or joined fellow parrot lovers at a training workshop? I have, and have made friends doing so. To the disabled, the elderly, those facing illness, and those who live in isolation, for all of us, pets offer a connection to the world.

We may joke about the lengths we go to for our pets. Most of us are more than willing to give them everything we can, but there is no doubt that the bond we share with them is a healthy one.

Tamara is committed to the care of animals and to furthering the human-animal bond. For more, follow @Advocate4Pets on Twitter.

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