Think for a moment about a special family pet, the one who day by day etched its personality into your heart. Were you and your pet communicating in ways that go beyond the obvious pat on the head or the happy wag of a tail ?
The intimate connection between animals and their owners has become a popular topic. Some people claim they “speak” to their pets on a subconscious or extrasensory level.
It has been shown that the presence of an animal to stroke or talk to can reduce a person’s blood pressure and instill a sense of calm and well being. Physician and author Larry Dossey writes in an article in Body Mind Spirit magazine:
“Devotion to a pet, like a devotion to prayer, can bring about improvements in human nature, as seen in the dynamics of families. . . . Being around pets, like praying, brings out compassionate behavior in people.”
Pets seem to know what we’re feeling, too. Scientists have discovered that a dog’s highly refined sense of smell allows it to detect human emotions. A dog might avoid the company of an angry person or retreat from a threatening posture.
In the popular Walt Disney movie 101 Dalmatians, a character says of the tale’s villainess, Cruella De Vil, “The dogs never liked her. Dogs have a sixth sense about that. They can smell ill intentions.” Dogs also appear to be able to single out individuals with psychoses through their senses.
For example, children with autism and other psychiatric disorders literally repel dogs with their breath. Dogs participating in such studies will veer away from the “abnormal” children, preferring to play with the healthy ones.
What is it that the perceptive, odor sensitive dog detects in the presence of someone with a psychiatric disorder? Does the animal sense something subliminal a pheromone out of whack, perhaps?
People and animals have been connected for centuries. Beasts of burden made possible transport and agriculture and were a valued food source. The citizens of Mesopotamia bred sheep, the ancient Greeks and the Japanese kept dogs, the Norse shamans thought of their reindeer as spiritual companions, and swans were popular pets in tenth century Britain.