We are creatures of habit, we human beings. We crave routine, even those of us who are wild and crazy, who never do the same thing twice, or make it a point to drive to work a different way every day. We still have that - get up, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, go to work, do the work, have lunch, chat with friends, drive home routine. Or, if you work at home as I do, you develop your own schedule, but you still eat breakfast before noon, and lunch is sometime before 3pm. After that it's not lunch anymore. It might be dinner, but dinner is usually between 5-8.
Our pets are ever more the creatures of habit. They follow us in our regular routine and learn to expect breakfast at a certain time, their walk at a certain time, dinner and then bedtime, all within the confines of their sense of time. Our pets need that kind of certainty. They need to know we will care for them on a regular, daily basis.
As we do, the bond between human and animal grows. I so believe in the human animal bond, in all its glory! It's an invisible thing, but tangible, also.
The human animal bond involves more than comforting each other in times of stress. Our Emily has been quite lost and confused with Olive gone. She is slowly acclimating herself to the status of "only dog". We are not ready to bring another bark-bark into the house just yet. Emily and Molly, the cat, are okay together, but I do not believe they will bond the way Emily and Olive did. We'll see.
The real bond here, now, is between Emily and us, Tom and myself. She craves that attention. She loves having her ears rubbed, her whole body massaged, every morning. She knows where the various dog beds are and has her favorites for certain times of the day. She is always eager for dinner time as we spoil her with bits of turkey burgers, when we have our food. It was a favorite of Olive's also. Our thoughts was that our people food isn't really good for the pets, but little bits of turkey burger merely adds protein to their diet. Yes, we can justify almost anything, if given time and reason for it.
I will say, quickly, that there is a strong bond between Tom and kitty, also. It's every bit as strong as the one with Emily, but it is a different animal altogether. As Molly is a different animal. Her bond stems from food, of course - she knows who feeds her most (I am the backup person on the food truck, Tom normally feeds both animals), and Tom was her first companion when she came to live with us, so she bonded strongly with him. Now, she is insulted when he spends time upstairs, as opposed to the semi-finished basement that is her 'home'. She does come up, and meow at him, or sit with him. Never with me. With me she is kind and friendly, but not loving, as she is with Tom.
These animals care for us because we are their caregivers, no doubt. They expect us to sneak them a tidbit of meat from our plates, and they rejoice in our laughter when we do so. The bond between us is so much more than that, however. More than the expectation of food.
There is real love. There is affection that only other pet parents will understand. There is a warmth in the meows and the barks, in the wagging of that long, white tail, and the long gaze from green eyes.
It makes us better. I am less of a person, when I am without my pets. The loss of Olive this week has created a sharp tear in my heart. A tear that might be small, because I still have room for Emily, Molly and more pets to come, but it's a tear that will take a long time to heal. And when it does, the scar will remind me of the anguish we felt when we had to let her go. In the healing, we will remember - we will at last let her go fully, to run free with all the others.
The real power of the human animal bond in all its glory, is that it endures. Even after death, it endures.
Don't you agree?