Why do we like animals more than humans?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by snoopy, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. DAngel

    DAngel Active Member

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    I don't know the reference, but that still made me laugh :lol:
     
  2. Southpaw

    Southpaw Saint Smugpawski

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    Rexy knows what I'm talking about. :sekret:

    And I agree with agal's analysis. My cats never respond to any of my hare-brained schemes with "What are you doing THAT for??"
     
  3. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    Unbelievable post.

    I totally disagree and have to ask, how many animals have you raised and how close are you to them?

    Dogs require major lifestyle and behaviour changes - more than cats- particularly if you get a puppy. And any pet owner who doesn't consider the needs of the pet much is not a responsible pet owner. But cats do require changes as well. We got our cat about one year ago and that required me to put away a vase of peacock feathers that was sitting on the floor because the cat would ruin it. No, not a big deal, in itself, but now that we have a new puppy as well, the carpets have to be rolled up so he won't chew them. The house has to be puppy proofed, which means no shoes on the floor, no food within puppy's reach, and so on. In the meantime, the cat has made a mess of the chairs in my office with his claws (fortunately not leather). Oh, and I have to try and keep the cat in at night, because it is best for cats not to be on the prowl - another focus.

    And then, there is the discipline and attention that a puppy requires on a daily basis, for obedience and housebreaking. It requires significant lifestyle changes on the part of the owner. We dedicated most of the last six weeks to our new puppy and only now are starting to leaving him for short periods of time. As the pup has separation anxiety, it will be slow working up to leaving him for a number of hours. I can't just go out whenever I want, for as long as I want.

    The puppy wakes us up earlier than we like, which means a change to our routines, and for a number of years, his exercise will be part of our daily routines, regardless of the weather. He's a golden retriever - an energetic, athletic dog - and will need several outings a day.

    I also have to say my relationships with my animals are not one-sided. Animals have emotions, personalities, intelligence and interests. They interact with people and other animals. Dogs especially are social animals.
     
  4. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    I agree that animals' lack of judgment is a reason we love them so much and enjoy their company.

    And would add that animals' honesty is reason I enjoy their company more than some humans. Animals don't play mind games and don't pretend to be anything they are not. They don't lie and they don't hide their feelings behind a veneer of pretense.

    Plus, they live in the moment. Something humans only aspire to do, often through countless hours of meditation.

    My dogs (and cats, to a lesser extent) have shared their joy of life with me. And it is interesting to observe dogs in a social situation. They really get along with each other better than humans do, in general, and there is much to be learned from them (not that we humans will ever enjoy sniffing each others bottoms).

    All of my pets have been cherished companions. I have enjoyed their company and they have enriched my life immensely.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013
  5. genegri

    genegri Active Member

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    I don't like animals more than humans. But I agree they are easier to deal with than humans. Not to mention generally cuter! Lol

    I find them easier because I do not have to view them as my equal.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013
  6. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    If you have a cat, just make sure you don't tell him/her and turn his/her world upside down!!

    :)
     
  7. Corianna

    Corianna Active Member

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    Not only that, the cat would know you are deluded.
     
  8. falling_dance

    falling_dance Happy for Kozuka, Sad for D. Murakami

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    nm
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013
  9. orientalplane

    orientalplane Mad for mangelwurzels

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    You cannot apply a word like "honesty" to animals. Animals (with the possible exception of chimpanzees) lack the capacity to be honest or dishonest. Neither do they have the capacity to pretend anything, or to tell lies. This is just sentimental anthropomorphism.
     
  10. Prancer

    Prancer Jawwalking Staff Member

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    While that is true to a point, I think most of the posts in this thread rather prove agalisgv's point--people keep saying that animals aren't judgmental, for example.

    There are two ways to look at that--one is that animals accept you as you are and that's a wonderful thing. But the other is that animals accept you as you are and that's maybe not such a wonderful thing.

    Does no one else see any irony in saying things like "People suck! Animals never judge!"

    No?

    Well, anyway, yes, humans will judge you. A pet will never tell you to get your finances in order, take your meds, stop feeling sorry for yourself, get a second job, go back to school or clean the bathroom, for god's sake. A dog won't care if you get an F, screw up at work, miss a rent payment or blow your paycheck on a spray tan, and your cat will still purr for you even if you run up your credit cards, tell lies, let the laundry pile up or go to bed drunk every night. That one night stand that should never have been? That project you didn't get done at work? Those big plans you had when you were younger that never panned out? Your pets don't care; as long as their simple needs are met, life is fine.

    Again, there are two ways to look at that. It's wonderful to have a pet to curl up with when you are miserable or feeling sorry for yourself; it's another, at least IMO, to consider your pet your primary source of emotional validation.

    But isn't that kind of what we all love about our pets? Not what they are, but all the things we read into them?
     
  11. orientalplane

    orientalplane Mad for mangelwurzels

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    A lot of people in this thread seem to be doing that, so maybe you're right that most (though not all) people do that. I have no pets now as they're too much of a tie and a hassle, but when we had a cat, I always just thought of her as a cat. Don't think I gave her any human qualities.
     
  12. Prancer

    Prancer Jawwalking Staff Member

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    I see my dog as a dog, but I also see more and more people who see their pets as children, family members, best friends, etc.

    I don't think it's possible to see your pet in that light without engaging in some anthropomorphism.
     
  13. orientalplane

    orientalplane Mad for mangelwurzels

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    Yes, I agree.
     
  14. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    Behavioral science indicates many, maybe all, animals do indeed have emotions (and not just chimpanzees). Pet owners cue into this very well. While we do anthropomorphize them, there are emotions and personality in each animal that we recognize. Some people are more attuned to this than others and they are the ones most likely to both have pets and to study their behavior. I see my dogs as dogs because to do otherwise isn't fair to the dog. I am also sensitive to their emotions and they are to mine as well. Dogs are especially good at sensing human emotions and that's one of the reasons for the domestication of the dog and the long interwoven history between humans and dogs. And the types of dog burials we find in archaeological context indicates that the anthropomorphization occurred millennia ago as well as the "familial" connections between humans and animals.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013
  15. orientalplane

    orientalplane Mad for mangelwurzels

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    Sure, I'm prepared to believe that some animals have intelligence and emotions, particularly dogs, some (perhaps all, I don't know) cetaceans, the great apes, pigs and various others, but most of the world's animals are insects. And the thread title says "animals", not "pets" or "dogs". I doubt that many people value insects above humans. As for the idea that invertebrates have emotions, here's an interesting article about bees and emotion: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-bees-have-feelings

    rfisher, I'm aware that you know far more about this than I do and probably more than anyone else here, so it would be interesting to read your thoughts on this.
     
  16. rfisher

    rfisher Satisfied skating fan

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    My particular interest is in cetaceans and primates. The problem is how do we measure or even assess emotion in other species. There is a lot of research being done with both cetaceans and primates and the research indicates there is so much we don't know due to a for lack of better words, a failure to communicate. The more cetacean research understands about the ways they communicate with each other, and most will use the terms language now, the more we realize how little we know or understand about other species. When in grad school, I convinced my linguistics prof to let me write my research paper on cetacean language. I hated linguistics and was trying to find something to write about that didn't make me want to poke a fork in my eyes. :p It took a lot of persuading to overcome his skepticism, but I did and got a grudging admission that maybe anthropology needed to look beyond its field. And, I got an A on the paper. This was over 10 years ago and there have been much advancement in the mean time. I just read a new paper on tool use by an octopus which is the first observation in a non-mammalian species. So, if other, not just species but entirely different orders of animals exhibit deliberate use of tools, a trait once thought exclusive to humans, the possession of other mental abilities can no longer be dismissed out of hand. We simply don't know.
     
  17. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Even when I am frustrated, ready to scream, hit them, or tear my hair out because of something stupid my animals did, I can remind myself that they do not know any better and they are not doing it deliberately.

    As far as coworkers and customers go....rarely can I use that excuse. They're either doing it deliberately or they don't know any better despite having the capacity to know better. That is vastly more annoying than my dog peeing on the floor because he just can't hold it any more.
     
  18. Cyn

    Cyn Well-Known Member

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    Don't tell that to the pooches featured on Dog Shaming -- their :slinkaway guilty faces (most of the time) say it all :lol:.

    The faces of the kitties featured on Cat Shaming, however, tell an entirely different story -- there's a lot of :rolleyes:, :D, :encore:, :HA!:, and :EVILLE: regarding their transgressions :rofl:.
     
  19. snoopy

    snoopy Team St. Petersburg

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    Cute is a good point. We shouldn't underestimate the cute factor. It is probably not to dissimilar to the pretty girl who can get old men to help her steal bikes. Cuter people can get away with behavior not cute people can't. It would also explain, to orientalplanes point, why we don't often try to make insects and cows pets. And even with the pet category, the cuter cats get adopted first.
     
  20. euterpe

    euterpe Well-Known Member

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    I recall a video of a herd of elephants finding the bones of a departed herd member. They caressed the bones gently with their trunks and seemed to be mourning the passing of a family member.
     
  21. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    Family members and friends don't have to be humans. It is entirely possible to have a close and loving relationship with an animal while recognizing that the animal isn't human.

    But if any of the above impinge on your capacity to care for your animal, it will impact their lives. You need money to feed it and pay vet bills. If you go to school or get a second job, you will need to consider your dogs need's for exercise and socialization - and IMO cats should not be left alone for 12 hours of the day, either. If you get evicted because you don't pay your rent - perhaps got fired because of that project you didn't get done - you need to find a place that accepts your pets.

    Granted, cats are easier than dogs. But I would not describe the needs of my dog as a simple, not at all.

    Some people love and bond with animals more than others. And so what if they find companionship and comfort in their animals? This doesn't mean there is something 'wrong' with them. And if they anthropomorphize a bit, so what? People often do that just in good fun (i.e. dressing pets up for Halloween). And what a non-animal lover might consider anthropomorphism, someone closer to animal might see as fact. For example, I called my last golden retriever an 'extrovert' and she was exactly that. And when I said she 'wiggled her bottom and batted her eyelashes', it was also true. Though it certainly could appear to be anthropomorphism. She knew how to work her eyes to get people to do what she wanted (play fetch) and wiggled her bottom a lot because she was a happy, excited dog. She could present her ball or stick to 100 strangers and 99 of them would do her bidding and throw it for her.

    I'll add that I find love of animals to be an attribute that connects me with people. The people I want to spend time with are usually interested in my pets and enjoy going for walks with me and my dogs.

    Further, there is a lot of research suggesting that people with animals live longer, healthier lives - some studies are based on blood pressure. I'm not going to cite a bunch of studies and dissect their validity. The happiness that therapy dogs bring to seniors in nursing homes is evidence in itself. I volunteered with my dog for a year at a nursing home and it was amazing to see the joy she brought some folks. And the joy that children find in animals is also very precious.

    Anyone who doubts that animals have emotions should read the book 'When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals'.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013
  22. Prancer

    Prancer Jawwalking Staff Member

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    Why, yes, Japanfan, your family can be whatever you want it to be. My point had nothing at all to do with what constitutes a legitimate family connection.

    And your pet will still not judge you for any of it, nor will your pet nag you all about your inadequacies. Which was my point.

    I've had dogs all my life. And I think their needs are simple relative to the needs of people (the subject at hand).

    They should be shot on sight. Really, where did I say that people shouldn't find companionship or comfort in their animals????? That's one of the great benefits of having a pet.
     
  23. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    I guess it depends on how you define 'simple'. Some family members and friends are high maintenance and/or very needy, but a lot of people - adults- take care of their own needs for the most part. They are not dependents, as animals are.

    I would never describe the needs of my dogs as 'simple'. One was elderly, diabetic and blind for four years. She was a 'high needs' dog and we had to do all that a diabetic person would do or have done to him/her in terms of testing her blood sugar and trying to regulate her. It was far from an easy and simple task. Unlike a person, she couldn't test herself or tell us that her blood sugar level was crashing. We would never have kept her for four years without being very dedicated and having the help of a 'pets with diabetes' forum. It was hard to regulate her - we thought she was down for the count a number of times - and we couldn't leave her with anyone to take a trip (well, we did leave her once with the vet for two days to attend a family wedding, but she was miserable and got a stomach bug).

    Now I'm training up a new puppy. His needs for socialization, exercise, company and training are far from simple. Granted, the level of training a dog needs depends on the type of activities one wants to do with one's dog. Some dogs just run free and/or go for daily walks with their owner, or live free outside in a pack, like farm dogs. But the training needs and demands of a working dog such as a seeing eye or police service dog are huge.

    Cats are easier than dogs, which is why they are the most popular pet.

    And human children obviously are more demanding than animals and the rearing of them a longer and more complex process. However, I still wouldn't describe my dogs' needs as simple in comparison, particularly the first year of a dog's life.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013
  24. snoopy

    snoopy Team St. Petersburg

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    I agree that animals can be work - since I witness people put work into animals that they would be unwilling or begrudgingly do for humans. and that was the original question. So explaining that animals are emotional doesn't explain it since humans are emotional. It is more likely that because animals have simpler emotions do we treat them better than humans.
     
  25. Prancer

    Prancer Jawwalking Staff Member

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    I don't think an adult has to be high maintenance to be more complex and demanding than a pet. And I think many of the comments in this thread, including the ones in your first post in this thread, bear that out.

    And I would say that a dog's needs during its first year of life are simpler than a child's needs in her first year of life--and by a pretty big margin. And much easier to deal with as a human adult.

    I will say it again--I have had dogs my entire life. I have also had cats, guinea pigs, a couple of hamsters, and fish. I understand that pets are work.

    I think animals have emotions; I don't know that their emotional experiences are the same as ours. But I think our emotional experiences with animals are simpler than our emotional experiences with humans, and that's why so many people prefer animals to humans. It's easier and in some ways more satisfying, not to mention more validating. I think pets enrich lives. I also think that some people have very unbalanced relationships with pets, just as some people do with humans.
     
  26. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    I can't recommend 'When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals' by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson enough. It is research-based and suggests that the emotional lives of animals is more complex than many would think.
     
  27. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    I question whether early human-dog relationships were based on anthropomorphization. It's been suggested that one of the bases for that relationship was that both humans and wolves (considered by many to be the ancestor of the domestic dog) hunted in groups by day. And it's pretty easy to see how both dogs and humans would benefit from an inter-relationship - more food to share, combined hunting, dogs' use as guard dog. In those circumstances, humans would rely on dogs precisely for their strengths as canines. Just as people who raise and train working dogs would need to understand and nurture their dogs' strengths and personalities as dogs. But anyone who trains a dog in even the basics has to understand the dog as a dog.

    Though it is interesting - when I share my puppy training strategies with the friend who is raising a little girl, she often comments that she has identical strategies, such as positive reinforcement and setting up situations for the child/dog to success at learning.
     
  28. DAngel

    DAngel Active Member

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    I'm loving this discussion about animal intelligence :lol:

    Here's a Nova Science Now episode about animal intelligence :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZrzRrPRdC0

    Who knew dogs are such great actors? ;) I found the bits about mice helping each other fascinating :)
     
  29. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    I saw that episode - strangely enough, after we put our golden Luna to sleep in July we came home and that show was on the TV. The commentator saying, 'there are over five million dogs in the world (not sure if that was the precise number). The message to us was that one in those five million would be ours.

    One of my favorite dog stories is the Moscow subway dogs. I think they were shown on the Nova show?

    These are stray dogs who ride the Moscow subways to places where the pickings or hand-outs are best. They know where to get on and where to get off, and take naps along the way. :)
     
    sk8pics and (deleted member) like this.
  30. Latte

    Latte Well-Known Member

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    Pets give you pure love no matter who you are. They never talk back. They never cheat on you. They are affectionate.
    They don't leave. And will love you and protect you until they die.
    The perfect relationship. I love pets more than I love the people in my like.