Anthrozoologists have tried to explain how our species bonds with other species of the animal kingdom for years. Even with a lot of the research findings about us loving other species that can make anthropomorphic expressions back at us, we can't explain just how strong these bonds get and what behaviors are exchanged between two organisms. According to some research, " 40 percent of married women with pets say they get more emotional support from their pets than from their husband" (Angier). This shows just how much interdependence there is in the relationships between humans and other animals within the animal kingdom. Perhaps this is why animals are of great help for therapy.
My experience with other animals started at birth. I grew up around countless rabbits, cats, dogs, chicks, and much more. I remember from a very young age helping my mom with feeding infant animals whose moms couldn't care of them anymore for some reason. We have had dogs staying with our relatives miles away find their way back to our house unexpectedly. Perhaps it is because of my childhood experiences that I feel such a strong bond with most living organisms, and them with me. I can recall a recent incident where I was experiencing debilitating pain from an idiopathic medical condition (has only happened to me a handful of times in my life) and all four of the animals that I live with now came to me for assistance. As I laid there on the ground in a cold sweat, dizzy, unable to breathe, and unable to control painful muscle spasms in my abdomen, the animals came to my rescue! One of my cats literally crawled up on my stomach and started purring while my two dogs and the other cat began licking my face. Research shows that women who hold their partner's hand when they are burned on their arm experience less pain (self report and fMRI brain activity in pain circuit regions) than women who go through it alone or with a stranger - perhaps the emotional and physical support provided to me by not one, but four animals that I love was what allowed me to feel less pain at that moment and recover from the painful incident quickly. A lot of people even report their animals finding them when they're injured and getting them help and returning to provide support (Rocheleau).
At the end of the day, I don't really care to have science explain every detail of why I love spending time with Spidey, Toto, Oliver, and Milo (perviously mentioned cats and dogs). I'm very much satisfied with the mutually beneficial relationship that we all have. I've got one cat that tries to have conversations with me with his meowing, and another one that holds my face with his paws to kiss me. And I've got two dogs that don't leave my side when I am home! I couldn't ask for a stranger group of animals to love.
Here's a wonderful video about a dog helping search and rescue find his human in the middle of nowhere!
Here are my four animals! Photo taken by me.
Spidey (top left), Oliver (bottom left), Toto (top right), Milo (bottom right).
Here is Spidey providing me with emotional support while I work on homework. Photo taken by me.
Angier, Natalie. "The Creature Connection." The New York Times. The New York Times, 14 Mar. 2011. Web. 28 May 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/science/15why.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0>.
"Center for the Human-Animal Bond." Purdue University. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://www.vet.purdue.edu/chab/>.
"How Stuff Works "6 Pets That Traveled Long Distances to Get Home""How Stuff Works. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 May 2014. <http://animals.howstuffworks.com/pets/pet-travel/6-pets-that-traveled-long-distances-to-get-home.htm#page=0>.
Rocheleau, Matt. "Dog Hit by Car Limps to Find Help for Badly-injured Owner, Returns to His Side until Ambulance Arrives." Boston.com. The New York Times, 17 Dec. 2013. Web. 28 May 2014. <http://www.boston.com/yourtown/news/2013/12/dog_hit_by_car_limps_to_find_help_for_badly-injured_owner_re.html>.