National Human-Animal Relationship Week
This week is National Human-Animal Relationship week, and we'd like to honor all of the amazing things that animals do for us! Human-Animal relationships have been around for many years. They are our companions, helpers, and they teach us many important life lessons each and every day.
Animals have their own social rules, codes of conduct, and methods of communication. Humans can learn from animal connections and relationships, and the ways animals and humans are similar may surprise you!
Our Relationships with Pets
The relationships between pets and their owners is unique and provides both humans and animals with comfort, protection, and companionship. Respect, understanding, and the ability to communicate are three elements that help ensure a strong bond with your pet.
One thing all dedicated pet owners know to be true is that the amount of love you show your pet, your pet will show you right back, and then some!
We show love to our animals by caring for their needs, showing affection, playing with them, exercising them, and keeping them as healthy as possible. But did you know there are many health and wellness benefits pets bring to us, too? Pet owners are often:
Experience less stress and anxiety
Are more socially connected
Have a stronger immune system
Form strong emotional bonds
Have more compassion and empathy
Humans have animals for more than just companionship, and they are helpful to us in several ways.
"Humans surround themselves with a variety of animals. Many serve a specific purpose: cows make milk, horses provide transportation, and sheep provide wool. Non-human animals have similar close relationships with one another (for example, birds pick off and eat pesky parasites from zebras), but humans also keep animals for companionship. We are the only creatures who keep pets."
~Excerpt from Babies Nurse, by Phoebe Fox and illustrated by Jim Fox
Lessons Animals Teach Us About Community
Animals are a joyous and wonderful gift to humankind. They have distinct personalities and emotions, and just like other humans they merit our respect. Of the myriad of things we can learn from animals, compassion is one of the most important. From inter-species friendships to fostering orphaned animal children (sometimes also between different species), animals' compassion can be truly amazing. Animals can show us to look beyond our own needs and imagine those of another who is different from ourselves.
Another important value animals can teach us is that we are all connected. Everyone is different in their own unique way, however none of us can function without help from others. For example, dolphins have their own highly sophisticated way of communicating with each other and with their community, and even call each other by unique names! They travel in groups, like families, and will bond together to escape predators, hunt and feed their young, and share emotions like love and joy.
Elephants are also highly social animals, and they come together as a community to provide support and comfort during hardship and loss. Elephants demonstrate a wide range of emotions, and are known to actively grieve the loss of a young one, or another member of their family.
Animal and Human Families are Similar in Many Ways!
Another way animals and humans are similar is they way we love and nurture our young. Did you know that there are several species of animals who nurse their young just like human mothers do? Tigers, for example, may seem different than humans in many ways, but mother tigers care for and nurse their young just like we do! Other animals that breastfeed their young include: horses, dogs, cats, monkeys, seals, zebras, pandas, bats, and even ocean dwelling creatures like dolphins!
In the book If My Mom Were A Platypus, author Dia L. Michels explores the parent/child relationship for many different animal species, and we learn that animal families are not that different from our own! Like all parents animals nurture, care, protect, and feed their young. Do you ever wonder what it would be like if your Mom were a giraffe? Let's hear about it from a baby giraffe's perspective!
Now that I am six months old, I have started following my mom as she feeds. She shows me how to strip the leaves off acacia trees with my long, flexible tongue.
~ Excerpt from If My Mom Were A Platypus, by Dia L. Michels
Anyone who has ever loved an animal knows they have strong, unique feelings and emotions. Do you notice how your dog wags his tail when you pet him? Or how your cat will lick your face when you pay attention to her? Does your horse run over to you when he sees you? These are just some of the many, many ways animals express their love and gratitude to their human family members.
What are some of the ways you bond with your pet? What are the ways you see how your pet is similar to humans? Let us know in the comments!