Pets have a therapeutic effect on the humans, psychologists say. Just introspect how things have transformed. Dogs were seen as a functional requirement earlier; its only role was to guard the house and scare away the unwanted visitors. Dogs are now expected to provide us with emotional support, enhance self-esteem, reduce stress and pledge companionship. In the bygone era, it generally had a dog shed, at the rear of the house, under the shade of a tree, if lucky. It survived on broken chapaties and the leftovers of the kitchen. It was never welcomed into the very house it guarded, found it self chained during the day and left unchained in the night. Suddenly, the fortunes have changed, the pets are now very much a part of the family so much so that the first ‘hello’, after returning home from the office, is to the dog and not to a family member. A survey conducted by Rover that has in excess of One Lakh members in the USA, 94 percent of the pet owners reported that their dogs are an intrinsic part of the family.
It accompanies them for picnics, outings, vacations and long drives. For many families, the life revolves around the dog that they own. It has unhindered access to every nook and corner of the house. It eats the same food, may be more sumptuous, sleeps on the same bed, covers itself with the same blanket and watches the same National Geographic Channel. Families seek public attention through the dogs that they own; hence, every effort is now made to adopt a breed that has the cutest nose! Whoever said that the value of the cat is not its colour, but whether or not it catches the mouse is out of tune with the present reality. Mouse be damned, there are other ways to catch them, why bother our pet!
But, it may be worthwhile to ascertain the reasons for the change of its fortunes. How has a dog that was merely a domestic animal has suddenly become the darling of the family? One reason is, break-up of the joint families. This one change in the social order has brought about many life-style changes. Earlier, with 14-15 members in a house who loved one another deeply, none found the need to patronage the pets to this extent. Now, the family consists of 3-4 members who barely stand each other. The emotional bonding within the members is rarely to be seen, there is a visible void. Therefore, there is a need for another creature to play that role. A dog bridges that gap and fulfills that gaping need. Hence, doctors and therapists advise people to adopt pets to fill the emotional requirement. As a result, people are now attached more to their pets than to their parents.
The new phenomenon is, the humans do not adopt pets, it is the other way round; the pets adopt humans. Pets are not the center of our attention; we are the center of their attention. They may not need our love; we need theirs. They are not dependent on us; we are dependent on them!
Lastly, the canines do not provide physical security any more; they provide the emotional security. Josh Billings had observed, “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” I couldn’t agree more with him!