According to polls, there are 8 million cats and over 8 million dogs kept as pets in the UK alone. Over 20% of people in the UK keep dogs as their pets and just fewer than 18% keep cats, the rest keeping small rodents, birds and reptiles.
1 in two households own a pet. That means there are over 22 million pets kept just in the UK!
So…when the thought of going to university for three years crosses my mind, it is not leaving home for the very first time, or the thought of having to live off pot noodles, Iceland bought pizza’s and cheap ready meals that makes me feel slightly woozy. It is not even the fact that I shall be thrown into the big bad world, without mommy and daddy there to hold my hand.
And, it is not the fact that I will be leaving all my friends behind me, doomed to find more like minded people in a strange place I know nothing about.
The main thing that crosses my mind is the thought of leaving my dog for months on end, it brings a sort of… clenching feeling to my chest and stomach, like icy fingers or the feeling you get when you have had too much pudding.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my family to bits, no matter how dysfunctional it is. I will dearly miss the avid writer that is my mother, the grumpy pudding gobbler of a father and the troll up stairs that can only be described as my brother. However, It is the thought of walking through the door after a long day and being greeted by nothing but a cold unmade bed, probably a few half full bottles of alcohol (it is university after all) and a box in the corner that contains something that resembles pizza. But there will be no pitter patter of tiny little paws, large puppy dog eyes and a wagging tail there to greet me.
So the question is, why do we get so attached to our pets?
I often have this conversation with friends, who have pets of their own, and we have come up with the conclusion that the companionship of a pet, whether it is man’s best friend, furry feline or the cold blooded friendship of man and reptile, it ‘s a special connection.
It is not the connection you may share between friends or family or even lovers, but it is an entirely different feeling, which make us feel warm and fuzzy inside. It is an unconditional love that is hard to find anywhere else. Maybe Its goes back to the dawn of time, where man lived and hunted alongside animal, most likely dog, who were probably the first animal to be kept as pets. With our furry hounds related to wolves it is no wonder why they are so popular.
And then we come to cats…our stuck up, arrogant and slightly bitchy feline friends. Their presence as pets dates back to the early Egyptian times, where they were praised for their talents at pest control. Maybe this is where their ‘All important attitude’ comes from.
But all pets, no matter what they are have a profound effect on their human caregiver, and it is not only us that get attached to the animal, but the animal that also gets attached to us. If you think of it, you are their source of security and survival, without you, they are just another stray dog without a pack. You are their safety. Just like, they are your comfort, companionship and security. Our pets become important family members, and it’s understandable why we feel so much grief when one strays or sadly flies up to the big old pet heaven in the sky.
If you are a pet lover or not, there is no denying that there is and always will be a connection between human and beast. It has been there since the dawn of time, and shall remain till the sun grows cold.