The Captivating Human-Animal Bond. Why are animals so good for us?
Updated: Oct 11, 2019
The British are famous around the world as a nation of animal lovers. That's not to say animals aren't loved in other countries. It's just that the passion we have for our furry friends (or fiends in some cases!) elevates us above the norm.
Maybe it's because our feeling doesn't just apply to animals we're directly responsible for. We not only shower love and treats on the animals of our friends and families, but also stop in the street and the park to pet a passing dog or two. My sister is incorrigible for this. Negotiating a trip to the shops with her becomes an exercise in deep patience as she greets and gets to know every single cat along the way and most of the dogs as well. She lives in a country with a lot of street animals so you get the picture. I spend a lot of time sitting on walls soaking up the sun...
What is it that pulls us so deeply to make connection with animals?
My guess is that since human relationships can be so demanding and complicated, the endlessly forgiving and unconditional companionship of Dog is truly something to be cherished. Cats may be famous for their independence. But, as any cat lover will tell you if you are feeling sad and lonely, Cat will be there, gently sending out purring vibes of concern and comfort. Well, at least mine did - maybe yours is more of the furry fiend type?
Animals do not have agendas. As long as we take care of them (and sadly even when we don't) they are there for us; offering relief, showering us with affection and making us laugh.
There are so very many benefits to having animal connections in your life. Studies from around the world show the effect they have on our physical, emotional, mental (and I would add spiritual) wellbeing.
Depression, stress and anxiety can all reduce, as can risk of heart attack, stroke and chronic pain, simply by spending quality time with an animal.
Animals are used in many types of therapy - in the USA, they help veterans deal with the lasting traumas of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Although ESA's (Emotional Support Animals) are not yet recognised here in the UK, there are "over 7000 disabled people who rely on an assistance dog to help with practical tasks - offering emotional support and independence." (Assistance Dogs UK)
Caring for another living being and receiving love back is not only pleasurable; is a great self-esteem booster. When you are lonely, bereaved or depressed this can be a pivotal point in recovery. Dogs in particular help lift depressed spirits. As a pack animal, it's a fundamental part of their nature to be gregarious and form close bonds with members of their family. And in place of other dogs, that means you.
In the PDSA's 2019 PAWS Report 82% of owners said their pet made them feel less lonely. This report provides insight into the wellbeing of pets here in the UK. This year, over 50% of adults own a pet - 10.9 million cats and 9.9 million dogs.
As a healer, I've noticed that animals and their humans often share the same problem. When we are sick or in pain, they may well reflect that back to us. What we sometimes perceive as bad behaviour, may be their only way of getting our attention for something deeper. We need to pay attention.
Working with animals as a healer has brought me such joy over the years. I used to regularly give Reiki to the street dogs of the village where I lived on Fuerteventura. There was a daily procession of scruffy, smelly but undeniably cute dogs that would pass by the wellbeing centre I worked at, knowing that around 10.30am, I would be outside on the bench waiting for them.
Generally speaking, animals love energy work (I've met a couple of cats that didn't). They're acutely sensitive and instinctively recognise what's going on when you start to send Reiki. Energetic healing is not just for when an animal (or a person) is sick; it's also a relaxing experience to be enjoyed regularly that will keep your animal companion energetic, balanced and healthy. If you want to know more about energy healing take a look here If you want to book an energetic healing session your your animal companion or your self please contact me.
From a spiritual perspective, animals can be our greatest teachers. With half the country having at least one animal in the house, there can be no excuse not to learn!
In terms of grace, unconditional love and living in the present moment your animal companion will be the most profound mirror of the Self that you can gaze into.