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Vol. 4, No. 3 | March 2012

 

 

 

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Americans Love Their Furry Pets
Our Four Legged Friends
US MED Gives Back

Some of us hug and kiss our pets. We give them birthday gifts and Christmas presents. Unless they're huge, they may even sleep at the foot of our beds.

But obsessed with them? Probably not, says psychology professor Stanley Coren, who is also a Psychology Today columnist.

Still, 81 percent regard their pets as members of the family, and 55 percent call themselves their pets' mommy or daddy. They recognize that their pets are not furry humans. But, being humans themselves, they have a need to nurture, and pets are the ideal recipients. Pets give unqualified love, reduce stress, speed healing and improve humans' fitness and social interactions.

Sharon Peters, a USA Today columnist, says loving pets has historical precedents. In Rome, for example, women carried their small dogs everywhere and decorated them with jewels.

In the 17th century, Frederick the Great, King of Persia, was devoted to his dogs, especially to his greyhound, Biche. When Biche died, Frederick wrote at length about his grief. He also said, "It is best to be too sensitive than too hard."

Playwright Eugene O'Neil didn't like kids but adored his Dalmatian, Blemie, who had a stylish raincoat and a four-poster bed.

There may be a problem with pet obsession if the owner avoids relationships and activities with people.

The most common problem is people who insist on taking ill-mannered pets to inappropriate places. Their problem is self-absorption, which is usually seen in other aspects of their lives as well.

Waco, Texas, psychologist Julia Becker says empty-nesters, singles, the childless and the homebound are more likely to treat their pets as family members. She says that there's nothing wrong with that.

 

 

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