Photo Doggies for Anthony and the human-animal bond

Photo Doggies for Anthony and the human-animal bond
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Jan 13 2015

We are still getting back into the swing of the post-holiday “return to school” routine, and as such, the mornings around my house have been pretty crazy this week. But this morning, something my son said stopped me in my tracks. The boys were watching “Wild Kratts” while they ate their breakfast, and the take home message today was apparently about symbiosis.

My oldest child, who is 4 years old, said, “Mommy, what is sim-bi-tosis?” I sighed, because we were short on time and explaining to a 4 year old what a mutually beneficial relationship between two living organisms is really wasn’t in my plans for the morning. Quickly, I rattled off something to the effect of “it’s when two animals each do something to make the other one’s day better.”

I could see my son’s wheels turning and I braced myself for a barrage of at least one hundred more questions. But just then, a smile flashed across his face, and he spoke these words of true, innocent brilliance: “Like with us and Lester?” (Lester is the 10 year old coonhound we adopted a few months ago.) He continued on, “Like how we give Lester food and he gives us love?”

My heart melted. My boy had hit the nail right on the head. In the case of people and our pets, symbiosis, it seems, is synonymous with “human-animal bond”.

Any pet lover can tell you about the strength of the human-animal bond. It is this bond that makes both us and our pets go to extraordinary lengths to protect each other. Stories abound of owners putting their lives on the line to save pets from perilous plights, and vice versa. Dogs have saved countless owners from fires and carbon monoxide poisonings, and some are even trained to predict diabetic and epileptic episodes. I’d call saving a life the ultimate way to “make the other one’s day better”!

In between all of the serious lifesaving that goes on in the human-animal bond, there are thousands more light-hearted ways that animals make our day better. Simply seeing a picture of an adorable kitten or a curmudgeonly posed pup makes me chuckle, and funny cat videos can have me in stitches.

This week, I have seen a huge win for the bond between humans and their animals. I mean, this is a seriously epic win. Maybe you’ve seen it on your Facebook feed, but if not, you should look it up, especially if you’re having a bad day. Photo Doggies for Anthony is a page started in support of 16 year old Anthony Lyons. He is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia and has to sit through chemotherapy once a month.

Sitting through chemotherapy is a pretty hefty burden for anyone, especially a 16 year old boy. Occasionally, he gets a visit from a therapy dog, which brightens his day. But some days, there are no therapy dog visits, so a page was created and call to action was announced. The family requested that people post pictures of their dogs so that Anthony could have a visit from a “virtual” dog each time he had chemo.

Well, it seems that their town, their state, their country and even people from the farthest stretches of the planet have rallied behind Anthony. As of this morning, over half a MILLION people from all over the world have posted pictures of their pets! People who don’t share their lives with dogs post pictures of the four-legged loves in their lives, be it cats, lizards or even pigs. Anthony is surrounded by an entire ark of support and love.

And if that’s not a perfect picture of the human-animal bond, I don’t know what is.