Why do people fall in love with animals? It’s not a relationship of equals: you pick up or scoop your pets’ poop, fix your schedule around their hunger clocks, turn off your work brain in time to take them for evening walks, listen to their howls and meowls, fret over what to do when you leave for vacation then worry about them while you’re gone. Their only concern in getting you fed is whether you’ll miss your mouth and leave a morsel behind on the floor.
Why do we let ourselves be seduced? That soft slim tail that curls around our neck and pets our head, shaking when we reach out to stroke fur. The soulful pair of honey brown orbs that fixate on our every movement, not breaking their stare until we get up from where we sit, which translates in their minds to either: treat or walk. We tell ourselves that the slow steady motor sound that comes from cats or the sloppy washing from our dogs’ tongues is affection. We are pleased and honored when our dogs throw themselves at us the minute we walk through the door or our cats look insulted and huffy when we return from an absence.
When we’re crying, dogs cross their paws and lay their heads down, then look up at us as if they understand our pain. But are they thinking anything other than, “well that’s weird!” Cats appear to select our laps and make us feel special by jumping up, clawing our skin until they get it just right, then gracing us with circular motions that finally result in them settling into the warmth and sighing in contentment. Would anyone’s lap do?
Why do we fall in love with animals? When I started this blog, my beloved cat Boo was missing: escaped out a door to a grand adventure but too dumb to find his way back home. He’s beside me again—thanks to the Prince William Animal Shelter and some good neighbors I’ll never meet. But I went through three days of hell not knowing what had happened to him. The minute I saw him, my question was answered. We fall in love because they make us fuller, richer, happy.
Genilee Swope Parente