Saluting man's best friends

Added: Wed, 09/27/2017 - 10:06pm
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Recently, my family was faced with the devastation of having to say goodbye to our ten year old dog, who became a member of our family when he was only six weeks old – the same day we took ownership of our current home. Like a family member, over the course of a decade, he followed us through life's ups and downs; engagements, marriages, deaths, family illnesses, home renovations, the birth of our first child, and the upcoming arrival of another. 
This type of bond to a pet is not unique and undoubtedly, a lot of readers can relate. In our everyday lives, we often overlook the depth and strength of the relationships and connections we form with our pets and it is easy to become unconsciously dependent on their unconditional love, companionship and interaction, so much so that our lives can become significantly disrupted when they are no longer around.  
“Animals offer people a form of acceptance and unconditional positive regard that can be difficult to find outside of pet-people relationships, and for this reason, attachment to pets can be intense, sometimes more intense than with people. It is therefore very understandable that we can experience intense grief when facing pet bereavement,” says VeterinaryExpert. 
But this connection is not solely one-directional, at least with dogs. Research has proven that the bond formed between dogs and their owners go a lot deeper than we may think and, in some cases, is very similar to the connection formed between a parent and their child. After examining the “secure base effect” - where infants use their parents as a secure base when interacting with and exploring their environment – they found dogs are much more confident and secure when their owners are around.
Pet ownership is also known to have positive effects on health and social
well-being as well as aiding in children's emotional, physical, cognitive, and social development, including teaching them responsibility and empathy. Many senior's homes include live-in pets because of the positive effects they have on residents.
Clearly, these benefits are something the population is becoming increasingly aware of given that pet ownership is on an upward track: according to the Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI), pet ownership in Canada has continued to increase over time. “I think that reflects the special relationship we have with them. Over the last ten years, cat and dog ownership has increased by about 10%. Overall, approximately 41% of Canadian households include at least one dog, and similarly around 37% include at least one cat,” indicated Colleen McElwain, CAHI Programs Director.
And just like family members, they leave everlasting marks on our lives and plenty of memories in our hearts, a type of memory many of us have in common; of good times spent with man's best friends.

Allyson Beauregard
Rédacteur / Managing Editor