Part 1: The Animal Human Bond
The animal human bond is quite powerful and nearly impossible to put into words. From a friend, to a working tool, the relationship we have created with animals has certainly enhanced our lives. There have been proven benefits affecting us mentally, physically and spiritually which are correlated to this relationship. Also, our bonds with animals have affected us professionally and medically. Humans become so bonded with an animal that they sometimes become dependent on them. We have learned to use them as tools or best friends that cannot be replaced.
Our mental health can be enhanced when we have a positive relationship with an animal. There have been numerous studies conducted considering the benefits animals have on levels of anxiety and depression. Animals have been proven to lower racing or intruding thoughts and cause our brain to release endorphins. They have a calming effect when they show affection to us, or when we stroke them. It is believed that the actual movement of stroking an animal releases endorphins within the brain. This creates a happy and calm mind. Caring for a pet provides an individual with purpose and meaning. We look forward to feeding and socializing with our pets, which in turn creates a positive mental wellbeing. Also, the companionship of a pet decreases levels of loneliness. We have a friend to socialize with every day, which in turn provides us with a feeling of having a constant companion.
Creating a bonded relationship with an animal, specifically pets, can benefit humans physically. All domesticated animals require either some type of physical effort to care for them. From getting up to feed them, to exercising them, they keep us busy! The more our body moves, the healthier we are.
Animals can affect us in a spiritual manner. Some may say that they learned about their spirituality and ability to love through the relationship they had with their animal(s). Animals can touch us deeply, and sometimes seem to be looking into our souls. They teach us to appreciate the little things and how to love unconditionally.
The bond we have with animals has also affected humans medically and professionally. In a medical perspective, canines in particular have been utilized for several important roles. They can be trained as a medical alert before their handler experiences a health deficit such as a seizure or diabetic crash. They can be used as a mobility tool for the physically impaired. They can also be used as “emotional support animals” for those suffering depression, PTSD, anxiety, or other mental health diagnosis. Professionally, the bond that we share with an animal is demonstrated in the relationship a handler has with their working dog. Humans have learned to sometimes become dependent on an animal’s specific skill set. From animal assisted therapists, police canines, and outdoor working dogs, humans have learned to utilize the keen sense of scent and calming nature an animal can provide.
The relationship we have created with animals is beyond explanation. As a mental health coping mechanism, spiritual enhancer, and professional tool, the relationship between humans and animals provides infinite benefits. Animals become a person’s constant companion throughout life. They remain unjudgmental during your worst times and provide happiness during the good times. They always welcome you with a wagging tail and happy heart. Animals truly provide us the unconditional love we need as human beings.
Part 2: The Loss of this Relationship
As explained in Part 1 of this blog, the bond a human can form with an animal is beyond words. They teach us so much, our relationship with animals enhances our lives in ways we cannot imagine. In addition to being our best friends and companions, animals are valued for their contribution to the medical and professional fields.
It is inevitable that the end of this relationship is going to hurt. When broken, the bonds we have formed with animals can leave a human feeling empty. This feeling of emptiness is due to the human grief response – humans grieve the loss of their furry companions, whether a pet or a working animal. It is also said that animals also grieve the loss of their person. Once again, this is due to the loss of the relationship.
When a person loses their pet, the grief they experience can be unbearable. For some, although the loss will be difficult, they will be able to move on. For others, the loss can throw their entire life off track and grief may consume their mind and body. In general, when a person loses an animal that they consider their pet, they will be affected emotionally.
When a person loses their working animal, such as a therapy dog or drug sniffing canine, it can be life altering. The relationship a person forms with their therapy dog is so profound that the loss of this relationship can cause deep grief. The relationship that an officer creates with their canine assistant is a unique relationship that only the handler can explain. These people are basically entrusting their lives to an animal and depending on the animal’s instinct to keep them safe. In addition, the individual will need to quickly find a new animal assistant. Creating a new relationship quickly after a loss can be problematic.
Animals also mourn when they lose a human. Both working animals and pets have an individual human which they view as their “person”. They become emotionally attached to this person. They sometimes rely on this person and do not like to be separated from them. Because of this relationship, when an animal loses their person, they can experience grief. Symptoms of animal grief include: loss of appetite, sleeplessness, wandering, quiet behaviors, searching for the person, and isolation.
In closing, the mutually beneficial relationship humans and animals form is one that cannot be duplicated. The unconditional love an animal provides is sometimes is a person’s primary reason to live. Animals teach us how to love and to be patient. They provide us a daily obligation to be held accountable, teaching us the importance of responsibilities. Animals can be useful tools within the working world. We have learned to trust them as working tools, while forming a trusting relationship with them. The animal human bond certainly is beautiful.