Why do people get dogs?

Dogs have been living alongside humans for thousands of years. Even today there are working dogs: herding sheep, sniffing bags at airports and even providing therapy to suffering people. Why do we allow these animals to live alongside us when they often provide minimal practical use in the household (except perhaps licking the floor clean after supper).

It is recorded that in 2012, 62 percent of American households included at least one pet. Dogs need a lot of care, training and exercise, why bother?

An interesting article in this month’s copy of ‘The scientific American Mind’ claimed that in 2014 Americans spent an estimated $58 billion on our pets.

Some of our attraction to other animals could be subconscious, driven by an innate behaviour to care that we are not even aware of. Perhaps it harks back to the ‘hunting and protection’ instincts, where having a dog around could provide both protection and insight into a prey’s location.

Behavioural researchers have noticed that humans seem to have positive responses to animals that have similar characteristics typical of human babies – wide eyes, broad forehead and larger head to body ratios. Humans are also primed to attend to fragile, young infants who require more care than other beings. Clearly animals exploit the same instinctive responses in us that human babies elicit. It is interesting that pets may thus help fill a human need to nurture other living beings.

Though it would not be fair to say that it is only the humans caring in this relationship. Our dogs are clearly a large source of comfort in many homes, as shown in child psychologist Boris Levinson’s work. He observed that troubled, socially withdrawn children became talkative and enthusiastic about therapy then his dog Jingles was present during a session. Dogs have that ability to relieve our stress, and relax us by simply letting us know that they are there.

Regardless of the scientific reasoning behind owning a dog, it is clear that there are countless benefits for having one in the family. A dog has the potential to form a bond with the owner so strong and unique where there is nothing comparable.

Here at El Cid we understand the love between you and your pet, and that is why we work so hard to keep them happy and healthy throughout their life.

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