why do we love animals so much

I left town for a business trip last week, and life is always more complicated during those few days before travel. Outfits have to be planned, cleaned, and packed. Newspaper service had to be stopped and arrangements made to have mail picked up. Editors and colleagues had to be notified of my absence, deadline extensions (in a few cases) have to be asked for. The speech I gave had to be written (one of these days I'll stop procrastinating on these things! ). And so on and so on and so on. All of that seems like a cakewalk, though, in comparison to the arrangements that had to be made to care for my two senior cats, Scarlett and Homer, while I was away. Scarlett is diabetic and needs low-carb moist food (dry food is now forbidden to her), plus she needed her twice-daily insulin shot. Homer's kidneys are showing the tiniest bit of wear, so he needs a low-protein
-plus, if he gets no dry food at all, his stomach gets terribly upset. Who would make sure that the right food went to the right cat while I'm gone? Scarlett had just had surgery for a tumor and still has her stitches in, so perhaps it would make sense to board her at the vet's office while I was away? Dietary issues aside, I worried that she and Homer, left unsupervised, might engage in the kind of rough-and-tumble that could have damaged her stitches. On the other hand, Homer had never been alone-with no humans or other cats for company-for so much as five minutes in his entire fourteen years of life. Because he is blind, this is no small consideration. These are all questions that ended up resolving themselves before I left. The bigger question--the question all of my non-pet friends and family members have been asking for years, and that I occasionally ask myself at times like this--is, why do we do it? Why do those of us who love animals voluntarily add to the responsibilities and expenses that crowd our already hectic lives? What, in short, is in it for us? The simple answer is that it makes us happy. The alternative, an unthinkable alternative for those of us who are diehards, would be having no -and I can't even begin to imagine a happy life for myself that doesn't include at least a couple of four-legged furry ones sharing my home with me.


The bigger question, though, is why do pets make us happy? Why is it that even though we know all the work and responsibility involved, even though we know we will have to bear the eventual heartbreak of watching our pets grow old, even though we know we will someday lose them altogether-why, then, do we still regard the prospect of sharing our homes with cats or dogs (or horses, or goats, or what have you) with such unalloyed joy? It's a question that I'll examine from different angles over the course of writing this blog. My short answer for now, though, is that humans are pack animals, and it is essential to our -from an evolutionary perspective, it's been essential to our survival as a species-to make others happy. Some of us experience this need to a greater extent than others, but the desire to please others is as hard-wired into us as using tools or walking on two legs. And, despite all the seeming effort involved, the truth is that it's so easy to make an animal happy-so much easier than it seems to be to make other people happy. When my cats have their favorite food, their favorite toys, and their favorite lap to cuddle in, they're so deeply happy they practically radiate it. Their isn't complicated the way human happiness is, with worries about future troubles or what they might have to offer in exchange for the happiness they've been given. There's no concern that showing happiness too openly might make the happiness go away, the way, for example, you might not want to appear too enthusiastic in the earliest stages of a. If there is a purer, less complicated joy than that of making an animal happy, I have yet to experience it. And there's something deeply fulfilling about knowing that, even in a complicated and often unkind world, you've managed to create a pocket of perfect security and bliss for at least one small creature. As I write this, Homer is curled up in my lap, purring away. He doesn't know that I'd been struggling to meet a deadline or worrying about who will feed and care for him while I'm gone.


All he knows is that he just got a couple of his favorite treats (Temptations by Whiskas, which seriously must be made with the cat equivalent of crack, my cats go so nuts for them! ), and his favorite napping spot just got freed up when Scarlett left to go snooze in her little pink cat bed. Some days, it's good to be a cat. Since time immemorial, humans have kept animals for companions. Pets are known to provide physical and emotional benefits, not only in terms of companionship, but also in terms of outdoor adventure, exercise, and socializing with other pet owners. As Sigmund Freud once said, Time spent with cats is never wasted. Dogs and cats have been particular favourites throughout the ages, with cats commonly thought to have been domesticated in ancient Egypt, and dogs from the time of the hunter-gatherers. There is a special bond between every owner and their pet, but what exactly is it that brings us so close? To understand the bond between humans, our cats, and our dogs, we decided to look at the letters left by historical pet owners, to see what lies behind this time-honoured pairing. From David Hume s troubles with his friend s dog, to Laurence Sterne s protection of his beloved cat and Alexander Pope s moving contemplation on loss, discover more about our relationship with our four-legged friendsв Laurence Sterne (1713в1768), the clergyman and author best known for his novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy clearly loved his poor cat. In a letter of 24 August 1767, he chastises his daughter for the, as he would not have his cat abused in such a manner: My poor cat sits purring beside me в your lively French dog shall have his place on the other side of my fire в but if he is as devilish as when I last saw him, I must tutor him, for I will not have my cat abused в in short I will have nothing devilish about me в a combustion would spoil a sentimental thought. William Cowper (1731в1800) was one of the most popular English poets of the eighteenth century, famed for his depictions of everyday life and the British countryside. Just like Laurence Sterne, Cowper also contended with a dog and a cat under the same roof, but their relationship was far more amicable.


On 17 December 1787 he wrote to his cousin, My dog, my dear is a spanielвhe is really handsome; and when nature shall have furnished him with a new coat, a gift which, in consideration of the ragged condition of his old one, it is hoped she will not long delay, he will then be unrivalled in personal endowments by any dog in this country. He and my cat are excessively fond of each other, and play a thousand gambols together that it is impossible not to admire. Like any pet owner today, Alexander Pope (1688в1744) would have been devastated at the loss of his dog. Best known for his satirical verses and translations of Homer, as well as his inspired used of the heroic couplet, Pope elucidates the high The loss of a faithful creature is something, thoв of never so contemptible an one: and if I were to change my dog for such a man as the aforesaid, I should think my dog undervaluвd. Akin to Alexander Pope, John Boyle, 5th Earl of Cork and Orrery (1707в1762) much preferred man s best friend to a great deal of his human associates. In a (1667в1745), the famed author of Gulliver s Travels, My dog Hector bids me ask you if it is not hard that bad men should be called beasts and dogs when there are no instances to equal their inhumanity among the whole brute generation. Love me, love my dog? Unfortunately, not everyone is destined to get along. David Hume (1711в1776), the great Scottish philosopher, was certainly not a fan of his friend Lord Elibank s mangey cur. Indeed he said so in no uncertain terms, declaring that whilst he had great respect for your Lordship he had It is an old Proverb, Love me, love my dog : But certainly it admits of many exceptions: I am sure, at least, that I have a great respect for your Lordship; yet have none at all for this dog of yours. On the contrary, I declare him to be a very mangey cur: Entreat your Lordship to rid your hands of him as soon as possible: And think a sound beating or even a rope too good for him. Featured image credit: Animals, Dogs, Cat by Gellinger. CCO Public Domain via Pixabay.

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