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Why do we have pets?

What is it about animals that draws us to them? What about their validation calls to our inner psyche? Over the years, there has been a lot of research into the human trait of keeping pets, I do mean a LOT. Humans are the only animal that own pets. Other than working dogs, the relationship is very one-sided. So why do we do what we do? If an alien race were to come to our world and observe pets and owners, they would likely question who’s the owner and who’s the pet. We house them, feed them, walk them, clean up after them, pay for their grooming and medical care, and in return, they… give us a rub or a lick. In reality, we often treat them better than we treat other humans. It seems like a very one-sided relationship. It deserves a deeper look.


The consensus is that humans and dogs began living together 14,000 years ago and maybe even longer. Cats probably started living with humans around 12,000 years ago and probably domesticated themselves. That is so cat. The initial arrangements would likely have been mutually beneficial to dogs, cats, and humans, providing food and protection. The connection grew into much more. It’s not just dogs and cats either. Humans seek a connection with all other living things. People take in birds, reptiles, fish, bugs, spiders, and pretty much anything that creeps, or crawls. How many of us, as kids, caught bugs and kept them in a mason jar with a few sticks, some grass, and leaves, making sure to punch holes in the lid? Maybe it is a primal urge to own or command something and to feel control over an aspect of life. Perhaps it is something more.


So what do the studies say about the interaction of humans and pets? I'm glad you asked. Some studies say that people who have pets live longer. Others question those findings. Do we have them because interacting with pets produce a rush of endorphins or because they increase our socialization? True points but is that the reason? Did you know that children who are raised with pets have a lower occurrence of allergies and sickness?  And taking care of a pet also seems to help children with confidence, maturity, and communication. I am no scientist, but I think it has something to do with how animals make an authentic connection, giving us validation, forgiveness, acceptance, unconditional love, and trust. Animals often display traits we seek to develop. In the end, perhaps it is because they show us the virtue we call “humanity” better than we can see it in ourselves.


We may never know what that certain unknown something is that animals bring into our lives. Whatever it is, though, nearly 70% of families in the US feel that our animals are worth every penny. Whether it is the over-the-top excitement to greet us, the purr and head bunt, or that unique, particular thing you have with your pet, it is a priceless experience to share our lives with these fellow creatures. If you will excuse me, I need to go ‘sniggle’ my fur babies.  What do you love about your furry other?  Let us know about what makes your pet special.


6 comments


  • Gwen Parsons

    I have loved cats since I was very young and have had many.Pets play an important part in our lives.Learning to be kind and protective of animals is a lesson all children should learn.


  • Brenda Guinn

    Interesting blog. I think the way people have domesticated their pets is more of a need to feel that unconditional love and be needed.

    Consider this, why do people takes animals that God made with fur coats and natural instincts to hunt and survive outside and put them in their homes, feed them man made food, dress them and lead them around on a leash. Is that best for the animal or it’s owner? When you observe animals free outside to run and explore the way nature intended, well that is when they seem truly happy and content.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love animals! I don’t necessarily have a preference between cats and dogs, I guess they each have their own personalities, like people. Dogs seem to want to please, where cats appear more reserved until they get to know you.

    I have many Dowdle puzzles and most incorporate pets. I especially love the way they are hidden in the puzzle and I run up on them unexpectedly, like Bigfoot hiding in the trees or doing unexpected things like a hand brushing a hippos teeth (Noah’s Ark). My grandchildren love Cat’s Around the World.

    Dowdle puzzles are my favorite and I can’t wait to see what comes next! I loved them before this pandemic, but they keep me going through this very difficult time in our lives. Keep up the great work and thanks for the memories!!


  • Marlene Lupear

    Would like to see more 500 piece animal puzzles as I have all 500 ones listed.


  • Paw Philanthropy

    We are paw philanthropy a 501c3 non profit on IG @paw_philanthropy. We help dogs who need medical treatment. We all agree we love dogs and want all dogs to live a long happy healthy and fulfilling life

    Our board loves puzzles too we’re dowdle fans and loved strut your mutt especially. Please do more!


  • Pam Arning

    While I just love your puzzles and have done many – I would really prefer to see a puzzle with animals in it that are in an animal shelter. It’s important for people to adopt – not shop. Thank you.


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