Companion animals snuggle their way deeply into our hearts, they entertain us, and they help us in some less obvious ways. Scientists have found health, social, and emotional benefits to having pets. A good summary is here. The Biology major in me is not surprised to learn that humans have a number of benefits in what is a long-established symbiotic relationship.
While we humans get our blood pressure lowered, our moods boosted, our children’s immune systems strengthened, and in some cases the benefits of a rather effective burglar alarm…and while our pets get food, fresh water, shelter, and sometimes excellent medical care…and while we all enjoy each others company, something else amazing happens.
On a neighborhood walk several years ago, it occurred to me that even though my dogs and I were strolling together in the same space, our perceptions were so distinct that we were experiencing truly different, though overlapping, worlds. I was seeing colors and details they could not perceive. They were gathering information via smell that I knew nothing about. They were hearing things I’d never know make sounds.
More recently, we have new pet rats. I’m looking closely for clues so I can tell them apart from various angles. I realized that with their poor vision they probably don’t bother to recognize each other by sight. More likely they use smells I can’t detect.
How remarkable that despite such vast differences we come to know and bond with each other, and improve each others’ lives. (There’s a lesson here in our human to human relationships, I think.)
Thank you dogs, cats, rats, parrots, and all pets.