A Deepening Human-Animal Bond

Here are my boys in their younger days.  They were so energetic that I had to hire a dog jogger to help me wear them out. In the winter I worried that they would get too cold jogging, hence the picture with fleece jackets and reflective ice resistant booties. 

I’m not sure what they thought of their get ups but I felt better.  They had color coordinating outfits as well as light weight and heavy weight gear. 

You’ve probably figured out that I did this for me as much as for them.  I refer to them as my furry kids.  I know that a pet’s life is not the same as a human’s  but the bond I feel with my dogs is similar. 

Gunner died 2 years ago (the white dog) and I still get teary thinking about how much he was a part of me.  He was my one in a million dog, almost perfect in every way.  Bubba (the brown dog) was my ‘project’ dog.  He was willful, proud, naughty, sassy and demanding.  It wasn’t until he turned 6 years old that the light switch flipped on for him and he decided to listen to me regularly.  I never regretted rescuing him because he was soooo friendly and happy and funny.  But he was a challenge. I joke that everything I know about behavior and dogs is because of him.

And yet, I’m going to mourn and miss him more than Gunner when he dies.  It’s coming. He has a multitude of health issues and I know he’s in his twilight.  I’ve been thinking about his life every day and how much deeper my love has grown for him. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved and cared for him, but I’ve been surprised by how much more of my heart he takes up.  Physically and mentally he’s deteriorated and so he doesn’t like me to be out of sight.  He insists on snuggling in bed as early in the evening as possible. I bring him with me everywhere (work, errands, friends) in part because I can’t bear to be away from him for long.  We both have separation anxiety when we’re apart and I’m probably suffering from it more. 

I really don’t know if this is healthy or not.  I do feel that it is a reflection of who we are as a society.  Our pets do play a much larger social role in our lives.  I don’t regret loving my dogs or worrying about them as much as I do. I know I’ll be okay when I lose Bubba even though it will hurt unimaginably.

But. It’ll be a while before I rescue another dog.  I’ll need time before I love another one again.

I’d be curious to know your thoughts.

More later……………………..


7 comments on “A Deepening Human-Animal Bond

  1. This human-animal bond is one I have had with my girls since day one also. I too have a separation anxiety I share with Jami now more than ever. Since her sister (Jodi) had to leave us a little over a year ago, we too cannot stand to be separated. Jami has always taken up more of my heart with her health issues and her shyness. Jodi was stronger and more aggressive and would look after Jami when I wasn’t there and I miss that security and now I struggle sometimes when I must be away for any length of time and she cannot be with me. In reality I prefer Jami’s companionship and constant company over most humans; is this healthy? Frankly, I don’t really care. The human-animal bond is unlike any you can have with another human, and those that experience it will know what I mean; those that have never had it……don’t know what you are missing out on and I will not even try to explain it to them. Yes, the pain when your companion animal leaves is truely unimaginable and seems to always surface when you think of them no matter how long they have been gone. (My childhood dog who has been gone for 30+ years still brings tears to my eyes when I think of him). Our pets definitely play a much larger role in our society and in out lives these days and this role will continue to grow larger in the future. Here’s to all our animals that make our lives so much better in every way and who are truely a humans best companion to the very end. Thank you for your “unconditional ” love. And although it takes a long time before we open our hearts and are ready to love again after the huge loss of our pets; when the time is right, our next companion will find us…………….

  2. Mara, you have brought me to tears. I have always believed that the animal-human bond is one of the strongest there is. The unconditional love our animals shower on us is like no other. I understand the separation anxiety, because while Dot can’t stand to be away from me, I don’t really want to leave her either. Pure enjoyment is reading a book with one or both of my kitties on my lap and my dog next to me. Having lost Pepper and Lucy within a single year, I know the heartbreak our loving animals can bring upon us. But that being said, I wouldn’t change loving them for anything and it can’t stop me from loving the ones that are here with me. I can’t envision my life without my fur babies.

  3. How do we put into words the love we feel for our best friend. We don’t know that we can. The phrase “best dog ever” not even close. The words devoted, unconditionally loving, and forgiving might be a start. Well behaved? No way. You see my husband Tom & I also have a dog in her twilight years. A beautiful 13 yr. old lab named Maggie Mae. In her later years a diagnosis of liver disease and thyroid issues together with a few other “bumps in the road” have made it a challenge for Dr Doughty but it has made us realized what a special friend we have. A friend that has sat beside us through the death of our parents and the loss of our jobs. So as we write this today it is Maggie’s birthday. We hope we have many more birthdays to celebrate. We also hope that as we travel further into the twilight that it is a long road. A road filled with more time for a leisurely walk and maybe chase a squirrel or two. Even though we do not know exactly what lies ahead for us-we do know that we must stay strong. We have a picture frame that says “Blessed Is The Person Who Has Earned The Love Of An Old Dog”. We have been truly blessed and we know that one day she will break our hearts.

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