Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to. – Alfred A. Montapert
Recently, I was asked why I think people are growing more and more attached to their pets, especially older folks. I was stunned by the question. I think only someone who has never been a happy pet owner can ask that question. Dog, cat, bird, bunny, ferret, horse, hamster, iguana, or whatever else you may have, loving a pet is one of the best things about being human.
My theory on why relationships with our pets are getting more and more akin to human-to-human relationships, is because true happiness in life comes from 2 things – being of use and being loved for that usefulness. Children feel neglected or rejected. For adults, fidelity and long-term relationships are becoming a lost cause. As we age, we become obsolete and isolated. Our pets give us a chance to be useful, a reason to get up every day and stay active. And they sure do love us for that usefulness.
A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself. – Josh Billings
Our pets never fall out of love for us, never get bored with our company, and never think we are anything less than the most beautiful and important person on earth. Not everyone is blessed with happy relationships with other people, but we all need love to flourish. I believe God doesn’t want anyone to ever feel the despair of loneliness. Since He can’t appear before us in the flesh, He gave us pets to do the job for Him. Even if you don’t believe in a higher being, you are hard pressed to deny the very human need for connection, one being with another, to not be alone.
Time spent with cats is never wasted. – Sigmund Freud
Scientific studies have actually shown that pets provide the same emotional benefits as having human friends. Experiments reveal pet owners have higher levels of self-esteem and less depression and loneliness. In fact, having healthy relationships with pets are a strong indicator of a person’s ability to have healthier relationships with other people. Pet ownership enhances empathy, the ability to read body language and sense moods, and encourages a greater willingness to be helpful and friendly, all thanks to the lessons learned from our animal companions.
Pets have always played a huge part of my and my family’s life. We moved a lot when I was growing up, and pets helped ease the loneliness and fear of having to make new friends. As an adult, I have also relocated many times, thankful for the stability and companionship of my pets during these transitions. When my father died, I know my mother gained tremendous comfort from our Old English Mastiff sleeping in the bed, hearing his deep breathing, feeling the warmth from his body, easing the loneliness of having to face the long nights alone. When I divorced, I didn’t have actual children, but there was no way I would give up my beloved Siamese cat, Xena, and her big brother Hudson, my Chesapeake Bay Retriever. I didn’t care about keeping anything else but my beloved babes. I still have the ashes of my dogs and cats who have passed on, some for as long as 30 years now.
Today, I have Gunther. When he passes, I’ll keep his ashes, as well. When I die, it is my wish to have all our ashes co-mingled and scattered at a beach that has great sentimental value for me. I have not been fortunate enough to have a human partner stay in my life until death do us part. Speaking only for myself, as I age and give more consideration to what it will be like to reach that final moment between life and death, I gain tremendous comfort knowing that if there is an afterlife, my best friends, my fur-bearing family, will be there to greet me, to protect me and guide me as I make that crossing to yet another new home.
When the world treats you like trash, pets can help recycle your self-esteem and cherish you for the treasure you are!
Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. – Anatole France