Pet lovers all talk so often and knowingly about the bond because we have such a deep emotional involvement with it. Animals who become our companions quickly turn into our best friends and beloved confidants—constant supporters and even spiritual comrades. And they teach us many things. This special interrelationship plays a vital part in our lives and even becomes an element in our self images. So let’s look at what it is all about.
The bond with a beloved pet is so potent and significant that it actually helps define who we are. It can change our lives and have such a profound effect on us that it stays even after our loved ones die. And then they become the angels of our better selves.
Getting to realize that can enable us in our healing from the loss. In trying to analyze what it is, we begin to appreciate that this bond really is a very complex psychological relationship and a challenge to define. It is an unspoken mutual transaction that changes our lives forever. The first word associations that may come to mind are attachment, union, kinship, link, relationship, connection, commitment, loyalty, alliance, covenant. Although many of these make perfectly good sense, they still really don’t really say what the bond is. That is because we are trying to define love, and that is so difficult. Perhaps it is not even possible. So instead of struggling with a definition that has to be limited, at best, let’s look at what this is from a few perspectives, starting with a historical overview.
The human-pet bond is not a recent phenomenon. It dates back to prehistoric times. Some early cave drawings depict dogs joining in the hunt and around the camp fire, sharing the lives of our earliest ancestors. That initial relationship was not an accident or rare occurrence but rather a natural, mutually beneficial interaction. It served both the basic needs of humans and these friendly cousins of the wolves.
Humans and these new prototypes for dogs benefited from mutual protection and companionship. In addition, this chance union enhanced hunting success for both. Much later, these dogs would be trained and specially bred for herding and many other practical purposes. And they crept into our hearts.