We all know the phrase describing dogs (or cats!) as man’s (or woman’s!) best friend, and no one who has had a close relationship with their furry family member can dispute that claim. But what exactly is it that connects us so much with the animals that we bring into our homes? Of course they’re soft and furry and cute and give us kisses on command, but what is the deeper connection that leads us to the pure excitement we feel when we come home to them?
For one, I think it’s that they surprise us. They surprise us with their intelligence. The dog I had growing up, Sammi, did not know the most tricks. She could only sit and would only do so for a yummy treat, but she could sense a seizure several minutes before it happened and would protect the person having it until it had passed. An incredibly smart and personal feat for a dog that otherwise didn’t know up from down. They surprise us with their emotionality. They’ll come running across the room to you if you’re crying and lick your tears away. They can sense when we’re down and they make it their sole goal to make us feel better, even when others in our lives don’t make it a priority.
I think there’s also something that draws us to their unconditional love. They accept us on our best days and our worst days. They accept us if we’re dressed to our best or if we’re in our workout sweats (and insist to rub their hair all over us no matter what the outfit). They accept us if we feed them late or if we sleep in on the weekend and walk them off schedule. They accept us if we’re too busy working to give them the love and belly-rubs they deserve. They’re happy to do nothing with us and sleep all day or go on large adventures that we plan and they never ask for more than we have to give. There’s something about the condition-less aspect of their love and the unbridled acceptance that they give us that creates the deep connection that we find ourselves having with them. Of course we love these things because they make us feel good, but there’s also something we see in our pets that I think we strive to find in ourselves.
We don’t have the capacity to give our all to the people around us all the time, it would be impossible! But we can at least keep trying if we have our lovable pups and kitties around to remind us of the potential we have to give our best selves to the world day to day. They imbue us with a little extra love and give us the strength to try and do the same in our own interactions. They make us more open and generous and remind us of the capacity we have to put our best foot forward each day. No wonder we call them our best friends! Not to mention they are so stinking cute when they cuddle up with us for bedtime.
So give your pup or kitty an extra kiss and hug when you get home, as even when you’re not thinking directly about them, they’re giving you all the love they have to give and influencing your interactions with others. That’s why we decide to have them join us for such important moments of our otherwise fleeting lives!