Do you melt when you look into your dog’s eyes? Does your cat have you wrapped around her little fuzzy paws? You’re not alone! New science unlocks the mysteries of human-animal bonding and how our animal companions manipulate us into loving them—for our good and theirs.
People have a long history of living and bonding with domesticated animals. A recent genome study concluded that dogs may have been domesticated as far back as 34,000 years ago.
Today, our animal companions are as beloved as ever with the American pet population expanding from about 40 million cats and dogs in 1967 to more than 114 million in 2012. Roughly two-thirds of US households now include at least one pet.
Not only are pets on the rise, but the significance of our human-animal relationships seems to be deepening. A growing number of young adults are trading in their human partners for the four-legged kind. Many report experiencing greater distress from the loss of a pet than from a breakup. In a recent poll, a surprising 38 percent of dog owners reported loving their pets more than their partners!