Pets and Humans

The case of the woman who’s face was savaged by her own dog got me thinking about the whole pet thing.

A good friend once told me that dogs have no soul, no feelings, and the “love” we humans think they feel towards us is an illusion. At the time I found that hard to accept – the love I seemed to be receiving from my own dog, a golden cocker spaniel seemed quite real to me (she died when I was 20, poisoned by an angry neighbour who didn’t like the dog roaming in the shared garden).

So what is the truth, then? If a cat or a dog live with you, what certainty do they have that they will be fed when they are hungry? Is it faith? Is it total stupidity (they can’t be sure, and can’t even think about what ‘sure’ is or what certainty is) and they just take it in strides – they will complain when hungry and until then they will not think about it, kinda like small children, they can not and will not plan in advance for food – it is the job of the parents to think about such things… AHA! Parents!

So do we get pets because we like to care for living things? It is more about having a creature that is willing to receive our inflictions, rather than having a creature initiate some kind of giving (for some, the only thing dogs or cats give willingly is poop).

If we look at early humanity, having animals had a practical aspect – we get milk, fat and meat from cattle, sheep, goats, etc. and dogs were used as early warning, or attack/protection, or herding sheep, etc. It is not difficult, then, to understand how human and animal have bonded. It is certainly interesting however to think about the leap dogs have made from being a practical “tool”, to a fashion, something people do on a whim. Perhaps the popularity of pets was born in france during the early stages of aristocracy? Maybe.

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