This Valentine’s Day, you can be sure that many dog lovers are showing their love to their pooches and not just their human loved ones!
Rover, the largest online network of dog sitters and dog walkers in the United States, recently surveyed thousands of pet owners. Their findings were quite interesting, and included some of the following insights concerning dog owners/lovers:
- Dogs are often thought of as a family member and best friend.
- 79 percent of people include their dogs in family moments such as holiday cards, vacations, marriage proposals, and more than 1 in 4 dog owners have brought their pet with them on a date!
- 65 percent of dog owners say they take more photos of their dogs than of their friends or families (a point that is often not understood by people who are not ‘dog people’ who often puzzle over or laugh at people who gush over their dogs)
- 82 percent of dog owners worry about their dog when they’re away from home
- 56 percent of owners celebrate their dog’s birthday, and 39 percent admit they’ve actually bought something personalized for their lovable pooch
- 74 percent have used interactions with their own dog (or even watching videos of their dog) as a mood booster when they’re having a rough day
- 54 percent of owners claim they would consider ending a relationship if they thought that their dog didn’t like their partner
This is hardly surprising data for dog lovers – we all know that our furbabies are part of our family and we love them to bits. Many dog lovers talk to their dogs – telling them we love them and saying goodbye and “I’ll be back” when we leave home without them.
It wasn’t too long ago that people actually thought that animals did not have feelings, were incapable of understanding speech and did not feel pain. Yes, you read that correctly – there was a time that people believed that animals could not experience pain or suffering: The idea that animals might not experience pain or suffering as humans do traces back at least to the 17th-century by philosophers who argued that animals lack consciousness. In fact, it has only been shockingly recently that scientists have officially recognized that fish feel pain. Today, scientists have proven that dogs actually understand human speech and exactly what some human words mean. They discovered that dogs’ brains process language in a similar way to humans, with the right side dealing with emotion and the left processing meaning. They don’t just listen to your tone of voice, as was previously believed – they actually comprehend the meaning of what you say, even if it is short phrases. Researchers have found that dogs processed words and tone of voice separately, in different sections of the brain. When they hear familiar “praise” words, the left hemisphere of their brains lit up (the same side as human’s when processing language). This occurred no matter what tone the trainer was using – neutral, good, or harsh. Of course, dogs can’t understand everything we say, but they can grasp the meaning of frequently uttered words over time.
For some dog owners, our dogs are a major part of our wellbeing and happiness. The companionship, support and unconditional love they provide is hard to surpass by anything else. Dog lovers appreciate people who understand this bond in the same way that they do. Many a relationship has failed because a significant other has asked that the dog not accompany them into a shared household. Others, having given up the dog for the sake of their partner, hold a huge void in their hearts in doing so.
Dog lovers understand the unique personalities that dogs have and strive to ensure that their furbabies are comfortable and well-loved – a reflection of their own compassionate and loving nature. It’s no wonder that 88 percent of dog owners also admitted to doing things to make sure their dog doesn’t get lonely, from leaving the TV or the radio on to getting a second pet to keep their dog company.
A recent nytimes article touched on the subject of maintaining our social networks outside of coupledom – many couples tend to retreat into coupledom and lose the social connections they had when they were single – this has the opposite effect in their relationships than what is desired. Single people generally have wider social networks than those who are in committed relationships – they interact more frequently with friends, neighbors, co-workers and extended family. They participate in clubs, political organizations, teams, unions and churches in what is an essential component of social integration. Health researchers have reported that such activities provide as much protection against early mortality as quitting smoking and they promote good health and happiness. People feel better when their partners have good friendships, over and above the effects of their own bond. Having supportive friendships is associated with more satisfying relationships, even among couples already content with the support they get from each other. Many dog owners find companionship in their dogs, and they also enjoy visiting dog parks and building friendships with other dog owners. It isn’t just their pups that build friendships while they’re running free off-leash – its their dog parents too!
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