Animal Companions – Yes
Nearly anyone who has ever owned a pet could easily tell you that most definitely, animals can be a friend to humans. Most often this will be a dog, and after all, aren’t dogs known as “Man’s Best Friend”? Perhaps the most emotional proof of this are the stories of dogs whose owners have died, and the pups spending weeks, months, or years in obvious mourning. Some have even held silent vigil at their masters’ gravesites, sometimes for the rest of their own lives. Is that not a true friend?
And what of the loyal animals that are in service of the disabled? True, they’re just doing what they have been trained to do, but in many cases they really do seem to be concerned for the safety and well-being of their owners. Some people suffering from emotional disabilities even have a special need for ‘comfort animals’, pets that help the person simply function in an otherwise scary (for them) society from day to day.
Of course, this is not to suggest one should forgo human relationships in favor of animals. People need other people. But sadly, some people live alone, or do not do well in social situations. For them, a beloved pet can make all the difference in the world, relieving them of monotony and loneliness. Many elderly people too, who would otherwise feel unwanted or no longer needed or useful to anyone, find a sense of purpose and fulfillment when they have an animal to care for.
Even those who have normal human relationships and a big circle of friends still may find enjoyment with pets. There seems to be a universal, deep-seated need in the human heart for some involvement in the animal world. This desire is stronger in some individuals than in others, and in fact some people have no interest in pets or animals at all. But in general, it all comes down to a need for a connection with nature, which is something that more and more is lacking in the modern world. Animals help to bridge that gap.
Pets can teach us many things if we only allow them. They don’t judge us, they don’t insult us behind our backs, they don’t care what we look like, or what our social class is. When an animal is your friend, it is just happy to see you no matter what your personal circumstances may be like.
Of course, dogs are not the only creatures that people can have as a furry friend. Strong bonds have formed between humans and many different species of animals over the centuries. Cats, birds, horses, and a whole host of other assorted domestic and exotic animals have all played a significant role in the lives of people who didn’t just keep them as a source of food, clothing, or transportation.
More and more, the idea of animals being our friends is becoming accepted. Perhaps one of the most obvious ways is the increasing use of the term ‘companion animal’ in place of ‘pet’. After all, a pet is…a pet. Even a goldfish in a bowl is called a ‘pet’, even though there isn’t much you can do with it. But what is a companion?