Greetings, Friends! Please enjoy this post from Planet Dog's most recent guest-blogger, Sarah Wilson.
Sarah has been a professional dog trainer for over 25 years and holds a Master’s degree in the human-animal bond. Her first book, published in 1992, has sold more than 360,000 copies. Seven more followed. Books of hers have been translated into Japanese, German, Italian, and Polish, and three have made Amazon’s Top 100 list. Her top-selling books are My Smart Puppy (book with a DVD included) and Childproofing Your Dog.
She has appeared on a variety of network and cable TV shows including PBS's Nature "Why We Love Cats and Dogs," Good Morning America, Nick Jr's A Pup Grows Up, Comcast, New England Cable News and has been quoted in/written form fo O Magazine, Parade, LA Times, Forbes.com, PBS.org, Amazon.com to name a few.
Most importantly, she LOVES dogs and she loves helping people communicate with them more easily.
For more information on Sarah Wilson please visit her at www.mysmartpuppy.com
And many huge thanks to Sarah for sharing her thoughts with us!
Why We Call Dogs “Pets” by Sarah Wilson
When I hug a much-loved friend or fondle Pip’s ears as she leans against me, I am reminded that we humans are hardwired to want to both touch and be touched. When we share loving touch with others, our bodies download calming, soothing,“feel good” hormones.
real ways, we feel better when we touch more. The irony (and sadness) is that
we live in a time of less and less touch between humans. When I was in grade
school, my teacher could put a loving arm around me, pat me supportively on the
shoulder, bear hug me hello every day.
Now many teachers have their hands legally tied from touching their students. As a culture, we have become so focused on the misuse of touch that we have forfeited many the essential benefits of them. And, whether conscious of the need or not, we crave contact.
The English language salutes the role of touch in ways we may not think about. Consider these uses:
- An emotionally charged moment is a touching one.
- Someone who is socially adept may handle things with a light touch.
- Haven’t spoken to someone lately then you may feel out of touch.
- Reaching out to someone is getting back in touch.
The importance of touch is one of the reasons dogs have excellent job security in our culture. We need them more now than we ever have. And, as human-to-human physical contact becomes both more regulated and less available to us in all stages of our life and as our lives, both work and private, become less about human contact and more about interacting with machines, the role of dogs will continue to expand and deepen.
Our dogs want our touch and, better yet, they obviously show their enjoyment of it with wagging tails, leaning bodies and tongue-lolling grins. They sleep with snouts resting on our arm or backs pressed against our legs or curled next to our beds where we can reach out to them if we wake - startled/lonely/frightened - in the night.
So is it any surprise that we honor this vital part of our relationship with our dogs by calling them “pets” - a word that also means loving touch. It is defined (in part) at dictionary.com as “to fondle or caress: to pet a dog.”
There is a move to change the word “pets” to “companion animals.” Personally, I use both terms. Personally, I do not find the word “pets” to be demeaning to the dog; rather I enjoy the linguistic celebration of one of the very things that brought them into our homes so many centuries ago: the ability to share loving, simple physical contact. And it is that trait that will keep them in our homes and lives now and forever in the future.
As long as human beings are human beings, we will stand with our dogs beside us in a profound cross species connection that has not precise equal.