The Human-Animal Bond.
I recently saw/heard a story that really got me thinking about the human-animal bond. I studied it, wrote papers on it, and discussed it at length during my Animal Assisted Therapy program, but to me, it's the real life examples of the human-animal bond that speak the most about it's importance. Every day, I drive from my house Starbucks to get coffee. Quite a few times now, I have seen a man walking with his senior Husky. They walk in the rain, sun, sleet, and snow. The other afternoon I was with my wife in the car and we drove passed the man and his Husky sitting on the side of the road (in someone's yard.) The Husky was laying down, sprawled out, and to someone passing by, it almost looked as though the dog was in distress. I asked my wife to pull over so that I could check on the man and the dog. She sort of laughed and said "oh, they're fine, it's just snack time." I looked at her questioningly. "I saw them sitting like that a few weeks ago and stopped to check on them," she explained, "the dog loves to go for walks, but as he gets older, he has trouble making it all the way around the block, so they stop and take a snack/water/nap break before continuing on." Sure enough, the next day I passed them again on my way to get coffee, and they were stopped somewhere different, sharing a snack and a bottle of water. He was petting the Husky while talking to him, breaking off pieces of some food and feeding it to him, then offering him some sips of water. When the dog was refueled and rested, off they went. It's easy for us to get lazy as pet owners, especially as our animals start to age. It would be easier, and probably a lot more convenient, for him to say 'the dog is old now, we'll just walk around the yard and then go back inside to rest.' But the man knows how much his dog loves going for walks, and so with the greatest display of kindness and patience, he packs some snacks and refreshments, takes the dog for the walk, and doesn't care how long it takes. Our pets are only with us for a short time in our lives, but we are there for all of theirs. Until their very last day, we are it. While they are here, they give to us as much as we give to them. They give us companionship, stress/anxiety relief, and responsibility outside of ourselves. They improve our physical and mental health, improve our wellbeing, and they support healthy aging for elderly pet owners. (https://habri.org/2016-pet-owners-survey)
As the culture of pet ownership has shifted from pets being lawn ornaments & accessories to being as much a part of the family as humans are, the nature of the human-animal bond as shifted as well. It is statistically proven that we mourn the loss of a pet harder than we mourn the loss of a human. In a survey, 1000 pet owners revealed that they would not think twice about spending $50 on something fun for their dog, but that they would hesitate about spending the same $50 on themselves. Some of my clients at the pet food pantry have told me that when money was really tight, they would go hungry just to make sure their pets could eat. I even have clients that have been homeless because they couldn't find housing that would allow their pet(s,) and they refused to give them up. To me, these are these examples speak volumes about how connected we are to our pets. Though the bond between human and animal is different for every person, we are all here (on this site) because we agree on one thing; our pets are our family, and they deserve the best of the best care while we are away. I am honored to be the one entrusted with your furbabies' care, because I know first hand how hard it is to trust anyone with them. My goal is love them like my own, and maintain a strong bond so they always feel like they are at home,' with their family. <3