TORONTO, Dec. 15 /CNW/ - A recent Harris/Decima study1 reveals that more than half (53%) of Canadian pet owners think animals
are more reliable than people. Pets offer us unconditional love and
acceptance, which feeds our psychological needs as a species. It is not
uncommon for people to become deeply attached to the companionship that
pets provide, looking to them as confidantes, matchmakers, personal
trainers or even therapists. In fact, statistics show that nearly all
Canadians (90%) talk to their pets, and close to a third confide in
Milo or Fido - even confessing their biggest secrets.
Shiri Joshua, a Canadian Psychotherapist, speaker and educator who
specializes in the animal-human relationship, agrees: "There are many
reasons why people trust their pets, but what's really important is
that we learn from their behaviour," says Joshua. "We can honour what
they teach us by offering the same gifts to the people in our lives;
namely, by being kinder as human beings towards one another."
So does our love of pets mean we are becoming less people positive as a
society? Joshua says no. "Sharing a life with a companion animal
actually acts as a catalyst for human-to-human interaction; by
observation alone, it's quite obvious that people talk to one another,
laugh, and smile more if there is a pet involved."
Research shows that children tend to confide in pets first, over their
mother, father or siblings. This tendency attests to the human need for
companionship that is judgment-free, which pets offer naturally. The
relationships that they provide act as a jumping-off point from which
people can form meaningful human relationships.
Simply put, experts support what Canadian pet owners have innately known
all along: our lives are much richer with pets in it.
Pets: The original social network
In western society, people struggle to find ways to connect with one
another. Schedules are packed, demands seem never-ending and,
unfortunately, social lives often take a hit. But pets help us stay
connected to others, maintain a sense of community and can even help
our social circle grow.
The majority of Canadian pet owners say their neighbours talk to them
more when they're with their pet (61%), and two-in-five (41%) say their
pets have helped them initiate a new relationship with someone they
otherwise would never have met. It's natural that pet lovers want to
meet like-minded people, since everyone naturally gravitates towards
those with whom they share common interests. What easier way to spot a
connection than with a visual cue (like a furry companion by one's
"I once spoke with a woman who was quite depressed before she adopted
her puppy," says Joshua. "Her dog helped her open up to the world and
she met her husband shortly after - she says if it wasn't for her pet,
she never would have learned how to trust others and build strong
relationships. Her pet helped her connect with people."
Many pet owners have described their cats or dogs as having an
underlying "sixth sense" or ability to pick up on cues that go
unnoticed by people. Tales of animals saving human lives or responding
to earthquakes before they hit are not unheard of. "Companion animals
are very sensitive to their owner's emotions and energy because they
share their space," says Joshua. "They are able to sense when things
are not right and respond accordingly - they often pick up on our moods
and even physical illness before we are aware of it ourselves."
This helps explain why close to three-quarters of Canadians say that
their pets behave differently when they're sick. But this isn't the
only way that pets offer comfort; 61 per cent say that when they're
feeling low, their pet lifts their spirits. More and more studies show
that when we interact with pets, our brains produce chemicals that fill
us with a sense of well-being that is enormously beneficial to our
health. With these kinds of benefits, it's not unrealistic to think of
pets as Mother Nature's anti-depressant.
In addition, the human-animal bond is reciprocal: people want to support
their pets as much as their pets support them. A third (30%) of pet
owners say that, if permitted, they would bring their pets to work with
them. And the reasons they provide carry a common sentiment: they feel
their pets enrich their lives and don't like to think of them being
left alone all day long.
How's that for puppy love?
PawsWay.ca connects Canadian pet-lovers from coast to coast
It's common knowledge that social media has greatly changed the way we
talk to one another. Thanks to websites specifically designed to
connect people, today's conversations are inexpensive, instant, and
visual. Friendships are no longer limited by geography. We can build
relationships with people from across the country as easily as we can
meet a neighbour at the dog park.
This truth, coupled with the fact that pets enhance our social
experiences, has inspired Purina to create PawsWay.ca: a free, virtual
community where potential and current owners can connect, educate
themselves, tell stories, build relationships, tap into expert advice,
and share their love of pets 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Registrants
can also create a profile for themselves and their pet, take part in
various discussion forums, and post personal pictures to the online
"Pets are powerful; research shows us that the bond we share with them
spills over into other areas of our lives, and greately enhances our
connections with people," says Karen Kuwahara, President at Nestlé
Purina PetCare Canada. "At Purina, we believe that life is richer with
pets, so it only makes sense for us to give Canadian pet lovers a
vehicle through which they can share this truth with one another -
PawsWay.ca is that vehicle."
To experience how life is richer with pets visit www.PawsWay.ca.
1The Harris/Decima omnibus poll was an independent poll commissioned by
Nestlé Purina PetCare Canada and conducted between November 11 and 14, 2010. It surveyed 1,014 adult Canadians, of which 781 own or
have owned a cat or dog. The margin of error for this subgroup is
SOURCE Nestle Purina PetCare
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