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Pet Bucket Blog

This is why we love our pets so much

 by bora on 10 Dec 2019 |
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Pet owners have one thing in common: We love our four-legged friends. Research is shedding light on why so many people choose to keep pets.

We love our pets, but think practically about the matter, and you might begin to wonder why. Pets cost us dearly in terms of time and money, with little to offer in terms of material benefits. In fact, as recently as 100 years ago, animals served a more utilitarian role in our lives and the idea of owning a pet could be considered laughable. Despite all of this, hundreds of thousands of people across the globe choose to care for pets. Researchers have worked to unravel the intricate reasons why.

Many studies have cited the health benefits of owning pets, from reducing stress to releasing feel-good endorphins. However, for every study noting pets’ benefits to humans, another finds that caring for animals can actually cause stress, largely debunking this theory. There are plenty of reasons why we cherish our pets, however. Like our canine counterparts, humans are social by nature and being part of a pack benefits us. It is easy to see how this” pack mentality” easily extends to our four-legged friends, who began to evolve alongside humans thousands of years ago. As people began to see dogs as useful in the hunt and that cats kept grain-thieving rodents at bay, the domestication of animals emerged. Our canine companions in particular evolve to be compatible with humans, as they became adept at reading and reacting to our expressions, nurturing our bond. At the same time, people who considered good with animals earned rapport among their fellow humans, as pet-keeping gave societies a leg-up on neighboring groups that lagged behind in discovering the useful role of animals.
Though many societies value pet-keeping, it is important to note that not all cultures share the tradition of caring for animals as if they are family members. This offers further insight into why particular people feel such an affinity for their four-legged friends: Pet-keeping tends to be a habit passed from parents to children. Whether this is a learned behavior or embedded in genetic codes—or both—is still up for debate. However, one thing seems clear: People who come from pet-loving households are more likely to keep pets themselves.

Caring for a pet may seem irrational, but examining humans’ history as a social species begins to explain the mystery behind our affinity for animals. Providing a pet with a happy home gives most people a sense of satisfaction that, compared to making another human content, is easily achieved. New research is finding that pet owners are more likely to share a concern for the natural world, too, which may provide a bridge to the environment from which we all evolved.


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