Animals and Pets can be Friends to People – Yes
The Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary defines a friend as “one that is attached to another by affection or esteem, one that is not hostile, and/or a favored companion”. Indeed some animals can fit into these defined rules of being a friend.
Each person is different, they have different needs, or reasons they chose their friends. For some people a friendship does not have to take the form of human companionship. It does not need to involve the act of going out together, as when people go shopping or for meals.
Many people, of course, consider their pets to be their friends, their confidants, or even their family members, equal on every term. These people love their pets on such levels they mourn the animals passing as though it were a human friend, some will even form tighter bonds with their pets than they do with actual other humans.
Friendship does not even need to take on a equal relationship. For some people a friendship can be a one sided affair. It does not even need to be mutual. In such a form a person can consider a wild animal, such as a squirrel, or visiting blue jay, to be their friend.
People who consider animals to be their friends often find themselves communicating with the animals in a very natural way, no different than one would talk to another human. While they may not physically hear the animal answer, they read the body language or feel emotions and in that way assume a response.
Studies have been done to show that owning a pet, or being around animals, has positive health benefits. Pets and animals reduce stress levels and are often used in therapy. Certainly this should qualify animals as being qualified as friends.
Certain animals, especially when raised by humans, bond with humans in such a way it is clear they too see the human as their friend in return.
Friendship with humans can be fickle, one minute you are friends, the next you are feuding. Human friends have been known to steal from each other, betray each other, and worse. Yet nobody questions the humans right to be considered a friend. People befriend the strangest of people for the oddest of reasons, or no reason at all, yet it is accepted that these friendships can be real and genuine. So too it should fall that people and animals can be friends, no matter how diverse, or how strange it might seem.
All the people who do consider other animals as their friends, are the lucky ones. Everyone else may be missing something.