The Human-Animal Bond
brought to you by Roger Ross, DVM, The FoxNest Veterinary Hospital and The Animal Rescue Fund of South Carolina
"They say that the Egyptians have 50 words for sand.
And that the Eskimos have a 100 words for snow.
I wish I had 1000 words for love but all I can think of is how you move against me when you sleep and there aren't any words for that."
This love poem sort of describes my situation sitting here at this computer...how and what do I say that adequately describes our love, fascination, and connection to animals.
The history of Man seems to be one of struggle and competition, first for survival and then for power, financial gain and position.
We who live in the so called advanced nations have become very prosperous to different degrees, and with that prosperity, despite it's many blessings, we are finding that it takes more than money and "things" to make us feel fulfilled, content, and happy.
This is not any new revelation, of course. Wise ones, holy ones, and religious leaders have been teaching us this since the beginning that it is our relationships to our creator and to each other that are most significant...not the lowly struggle for scraps or even the higher struggle for accomplishment.
What we all seem to crave, both superficially and deep down is respectful recognition and loving or affectionate relationships.
Well, such relationships are not easy to cultivate. Not easy at all. We are so tainted by jealousies, suspicions, rivalries, and hard lessons of the past of betrayed trusts.
We are so afraid of becoming vulnerable.
And we have learned that if we aren't emotionally secure, praised, encouraged, and well loved as children ... if we aren't taught to trust and love when we're young...oh how likely we are to be emotional wrecks.
No matter who you are...only a little nuts or down right psychotic; finding, developing, and maintaining, deeply satisfying, reciprocal loving relationships with our Creator, lovers, family members, friends, fellow citizens, co-workers, and competitors is very difficult.
And yet the quest for a little love, affection, and positive recognition goes on in each of us...searching for fulfillment. Searching for a little taste of God.
Well, it will be no surprise to you where I'm going with this line of thought.
Two thoughts actually:
First; the reference to God. No matter how secular you are, I don't think you can deny that we humans are constantly pondering our reason for existence or that we have a craving for spiritual recognition.
You may be confused and clueless.
You may be fortunate enough to feel wonderment, confirmation, and confidence in your relationship with the spiritual side of life.
But you can't deny that most of us long for a loving God.
Please be patient...I'm not off track here. I believe that our wondrous relationship with pets and animals has everything to do with our much higher quest for a holy relationship.
At the very least, through out written history, writers have frequently compared our human relationship with God as being similar to our relationship to animals. The most famous analogy being Jesus the Shepard over his flock of dependent humans.
Whether or not we put it in religious terms, each of us struggles between urges that are "bad" and "good" each day. Envy, greed, lust, meanness, dominance, back stabbing, malicious gossip etc versus kindness, generosity, compassion, and encouragement. I'm convinced that our dealings with pets help us bring out the "good" parts of our personality. Don't you agree?
Please think upon these things, and I'll move on to a more secular discussion:
Animals...especially domesticated pets...help us tremendously in satisfying our need for unqualified love and acceptance.
What a pleasure to come home to a wagging tail and a big wet kiss. Or a purring and a rub. Or a neigh and a knicker.
How purposeful it makes us feel to provide such appreciated care, food, and shelter to creatures that trust us and depend on us.
How critical it is to our emotional well being and ultimately for our physical well being to be loved.
When the world turns a cold shoulder to us.
For those of us without loving mates or family.
And even for those of us with good family relationships who enjoy good friends and the respect of their community, but who simply have to compete in a ruthlessly competitive society...
How nice it is to have a cat sit on your lap.
That's my introduction to these pages about the Human-Animal Bond.
On these pages we'll discuss the positive benefits that scientists have chalked up to pet relationships such as longer life, better emotional health, slower heart beats, and improved blood pressure. Doesn't surprise me.
We'll offer lots of heartwarming stories illustrating the bonds and relationships between man and animals.
Life isn't all heartwarming. Sometimes it's a tragedy, and some of our stories are sad.
It's sad, for instance, that so many pets are killed in county shelters each month. And if you didn't know it, this entire site is being written in hopes of raising a little positive awareness about pet care in general but also to raise a little money to pay for the love and care of about 200 pets a year at our no kill rescue pet shelter.
We also discuss pet owner responsibility on these Human-Animal Bond pages. Hopefully you are mature enough to know that there are no worthwhile relationships without work, effort, or responsibilities.
God Bless, Roger Ross, DVM
Pet's Bill of Rights
We have the right to be full members of your family.
We thrive on social interaction, praise, and love.
We have the right to stimulation. We need new games, new toys, new experiences, and new smells to be happy.
We have the right to regular exercise. Without it, we could become hyper, sluggish...or fat.
We have the right to have fun. We enjoy acting like clowns now and then; don't expect us to be predictable all the time.
We have the right to quality health care. Please stay good friends with our vet.
We have the right to a good diet. Like some people, we don't know what's best for us. We depend on you.
We have the right not to be rejected because of your expectations that we be great show dogs or show cats, watchdogs, hunters, or baby-sitters.
We have the right to receive proper training. Otherwise, our good relationship could be marred by confusion and strife--and we could become dangerous to ourselves and others.
We have the right to guidance and correction based on understanding and compassion, rather than abuse.
We have the right to live with dignity...and to die with dignity when the time comes
"What is man without the beasts?
If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit.
For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man,
All things are connected."