An engaging and science-based examination of people and companion animals, this book shows how their lives are inextricably intertwined, what the impact has been on culture and on society, the reasons people go to great lengths to care for and protect their beloved animals, and why the grief when they are lost is so profound and unique. Anderson, a longtime animal welfare advocate, also shows how we conversely ignore the suffering of some animals. She explains what can be done about this dissonance and what the future holds.
Beginning with the history of the human-animal bond, which dates to the Paleolithic era, Anderson takes us through the evolution of domestication and surveys companion animals around the world. The biological, behavioral, and psychosocial bases of the relationship between humans and their companion animals are examined, as is whether the companion animals are adversely affected as they are embedded into the human world. The expansive and unusual therapeutic benefits of companion animals is included as well, as are ways they are protected, ranging from medical efforts to legal battles over wills and custody.
Anderson incorporates news stories, interviews, and the latest research showing the psychology behind this relationship that scientists have dubbed the human-companion animal bond. Research shows why these mainly nonverbal creatures can become surrogate children, friends, and even therapists of a sort. Current studies focused on animal intelligence, loyalty, and sensitivity are shared here. Those same qualities are shown at work in new and vital roles for companion animals, from animals in therapeutic settings to dogs teamed with soldiers, police officers, and rescuers. Anderson also explains how losing a pet can shake or shatter our mental stability, and how and why that has led to public services, funerals, and cemeteries for pets. The book closes with a discussion of the dissonance between our indulgence of some companion animals, while the suffering and maltreatment of others is ignored.
"The human-animal bond has long been a hot topic in recent years and journalist Anderson offers an insightful overview. . . . This well-organized, well rounded book provides excellent background, complemented by quality resources for futher information, compiled by Anderson in her research. Readers will find it entertaining and informative, with lots of pictures and examples of companion animals assisting humans and touching their lives.Recommended."
"What many of us have suspected and observed is now well documented by P. Elizabeth Anderson in this thoroughly researched and well written book. As a physician who has spent a career concerned with human health and quality of life, I find her book to be tremendously enlightening on the therapeutic effects of animals on human beings. I strongly recommend this book for health professionals and students."
"Studies show that people who have companions that they love, whether animal or human, are healthier than those who don't. In this wonderful book, P. Elizabeth Anderson shows that love is its own reward--not only feeling better, but often living longer. For many people, having a pet provides the experience of unconditional, nonjudgmental love, which is healing for both. Highly recommended."
"My dogs bring out the best in me--and Anderson's book explains why. Her book combines historical perspectives, scientific insights, and personal anecdotes in a text that is easy to read, scholarly, and thoroughly engaging. Her love and respect for animals are inspirational. This is a great book for anyone who has ever had a pet--or is thinking of getting one."