Hello, and welcome to the dog blog. We will be discussing dog ownership in all its facets, and what better way to start than with some thoughts on why we have dogs at all. The bond between dog and human can be a bit difficult to define in scientific terms, but there is no doubt about the power of this attachment. There are in fact some studies being done to attempt to pierce the strange mystery of human-animal bonding, but they have only begun to scratch the surface. All we really know is that “man’s best friend” really does tug at the heartstrings.
Despite any frustrations or behavior problems, when we become attached to a pet, that bond seems to echo the long history of cooperation between human and animal. At its base, that bond is simple and profound, somehow leading to a level of fulfillment that is not quite the same as any other. With human relationships, there is a level of intellectual and moral evaluation that is always brought to bear on the relationship. This is not a bad thing. It is a reflection of the importance of values in our lives. We are constantly evaluating each other’s words and actions as reflections of character, and we respond to each other accordingly. We do not demand perfection, but human love and friendship bonds are unique, because they are based on evaluations of character and values.
With other species, however, this bond is completely different. Other animals function on different models of learning and behavior, relying on what behaviors bring rewards and what do not. There isn’t any need for a moral code. Connections and communication seem to be purely for purposes of attachment, for whatever benefits this might bring. Evaluation of character is refreshingly beside the point when spending time with your dog. We simply are who we are, and our dogs are just our dogs. Simple. Powerful.
We really don’t get that simplicity in human relationships, and it wouldn’t be healthy if we did. That is because values, and therefore evaluative thinking, are crucial to the way we function. But it does mean that the bond between a person and a pet is unique, satisfying something in us that is not touched by any other relationship. Owning a pet will round out a human life, adding a relationship experience that non pet-owners simply can’t understand. The strength of the connection between us and our dogs might be mysterious, but runs deep. Dogs don’t question us as people. They simply bond with us and remain faithful to that bond for as long as they live.