Veterinarians discuss the “human-animal bond” a lot. It is that nebulous attachment that people form with the animals in their lives and vice versa, and it is very important. As pet owners, we can recognize it as the sigh of contentment we experience when our cat leaps into our lap after a rough day, or the simple joy we get from taking our dog for an evening walk. Our pets experience it when they celebrate our return home each and every time we go out, or the groan of pleasure they let out when they snuggle into our bed at night.
I personally think that the term “human-animal bond” can’t begin to describe the importance of animals in our lives. During the course of my career, I have witnessed firsthand how much pets and their owners need each other. I have heard stories of dogs helping their owners through the loss of a spouse or child. Once, I had a young woman tell me that her cat was profoundly important to her because she found him days after she had been a surviving passenger on a hijacked airplane. I have also witnessed rescued animals looking with devotion at that first person who offered them a secure loving home, and fearful animals clinging close to their owners when they feel threatened.
In my own home, we experience the bond between pet and owner every day. My son’s little Chihuahua waits by the front window every day at bus time, watching for “his boy” to come home, and my son can’t fall asleep without him. My dogs Ben and June never leave my side, and can often be caught watching me with expressions of love and devotion – always nice to come home to!
In this economy, just about everyone is forced to cut back their spending in one way or another. On more than one occasion, I have been faced with a pet whose parent can no longer afford medication or a diagnostic work up. But for someone who is experiencing financial difficulty, the unconditional love and comfort a pet provides may be the one bright spot in their day. That’s where educating more and more people on the importance of preventive financial measures, like having a pet insurance policy in place, can make all the difference when owning a pet, in good times, and in bad.