Dogs, Cats and the Humanimal Bond


The humanimal bond is a word I just made up, but it’s something you probably already know. I first saw it back in high school when I was a part of the Animal Assisitve Therapy program, where I spent hours upon hours delivering pets to terminally ill clinics in the Honolulu area. It’s no question that people change when they are around animals (especially cute ones) and the bond between humans and animals was at play those days in high school.

I found it hard to believe that a rabbit or guinea pig could make such a big difference in someone’s life. But it did. And it’s not just anybody, it’s someone who knows they are going to die and is battling with the acceptance of their own death. Think about it.

So two weeks after adopting my first puppy I’ve had some time to understand the difference between dogs and cats. I’ve had a newfound appreciation for the humanimal bond in my life — in my family, which is what it is. My pets aren’t just accessories to my life like an appliance or piece of furniture. They are my children, really. Strange, right?

When I adopted them I entered an unwritten agreement with them. I promised to protect them and provide for them in return for their love and loyalty. So far I’ve done my best to hold up my part of the bargain. They’ve done their job.

From watching Rio and Junior chase Maia around to having the privilege of watching Scout grow up, it’s all been such great fun, and rewarding in so many unquantifiable ways.

Having been primarily a cat person, my first puppy has been a great experience, and I can see why people are so excited about their dogs. At the same time, cats do offer a bit more individuality and are less needy. So, I’m not going to enter the cats vs. dogs holy war, but if it were up to me I’d recommend getting at least one of each. It’s worth the hassle as long as you know what you’re getting into. It’s just like having a kid. If you’re ready, you know it, and you can do it and be happy.

There are skeptics. Maybe animals don’t affect us in some unseen way, changing our chemical balances and our overall demeanor. But, I’d guess those people don’t have pets. It wouldn’t take long to turn them around, I’d guess.

So, I guess I don’t really have a point except that I have grown to really love my pets — where in most situations I never thought I would be so attached to them. Even the most rational and technical of people have this part of them that is… human. And that part of them has room in its heart for a fuzzy something or other.

Friendship is something you can’t quantify. Maybe because there’s no number big enough to measure it.

One thought on “Dogs, Cats and the Humanimal Bond

  1. Humanimal. I like that word. Thanks for sharing your story. I think pets can be very therapeutic in many ways. They can help a person overcome physical and mental hardship. I wish more people adopted pets for the purpose of helping them deal with and overcome problems. Especially from dog rescue groups that the ones on that page. These pets need homes and rescued dogs are usually some of the most loving and loyal dogs you can find. I’d encourage everyone to look into this option when deciding on a pet. has some great dog rescue listings Thanks again for you’re post, Lane.

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