(Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of monthly columns celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Michiana Humane Society.)
MICHIGAN CITY — There was a lot of attention paid to love during February. Valentine’s Day loomed large in our minds, with consumers invited to show their love with greeting cards, candy, flowers, dinners and jewelry.
For a month at least, it appeared that you could indeed put a price on love. At the Michiana Humane Society, we know better.
We reject the idea that love should only be celebrated one month a year – we do it for 12 months, 365 days a year, every year. When you are surrounded by as many as 100 animals in your care, love is a tangible emotion, freely shared by pets and the people who love them.
In his book, “Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You,” author Clive D.L. Wynne, PhD, provides scientific evidence to demonstrate what every dog lover instinctively knows: dogs are unique because they love us.
He highlights Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist, who demonstrated through MRI that the part of the brain that is triggered when people are fond of someone is the same part of the dog brain that lights up upon hearing his owner’s voice.
Wynne’s book not only illustrates how closely dogs and humans interact, but is also a call for the humane treatment of this beloved species.
Such love and bonding with humans is not limited to dogs; at the Humane Society, we see people bonding with cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters.
Every person has a unique relationship with the pet they adopt. For some, a pet is a companion to share a home. For others, a pet is the first opportunity to learn the responsibility of caring for another living creature. A pet allows us to feel pure love for a creature that depends on us completely for its survival.
We now know that having a pet can be part of a health regimen. Caring for a pet can lower blood pressure, increase physical activity and provide mental stimulation.
Certified service animals make independent living possible for people with physical limitations. They provide hospital patients with a respite from the stress of having a serious illness.
At the Humane Society, cats and kittens willingly help improve children’s reading skills by listening to them read aloud in our reading corner (and perhaps sitting on the book).
Many people visit the Humane Society to share their love for animals if circumstances prohibit them from adopting a pet; both person and pet benefit from this mutual exchange of affection.
Our animals teach us to live in the moment, and to love unconditionally. They don’t care how much money you make, what kind of car you drive or where you live. It’s hard not to feel joy when watching a dog catch a Frisbee or a cat leaping to grab a feather.
The French author Anatole France perhaps said it best: “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”