Archive for March 10th, 2008

Pets reflecting ourselves

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Q. Masters, in my lifetime I have had a number of pets—dogs, a cat, a rabbit, hamsters, and  fish. Every time I lose one of them through death I question why I put myself in a position to be emotionally torn apart. They become a part of my family, and better friends than most of the humans with whom I have contact. It is like tearing out my heart when they depart. Why do I feel compelled to continue placing myself in this situation?

A. The animals that you choose to raise as pets serve you in many ways. In the case of a lonely person like yourself, pets substitute for human companionship. You also have very little self confidence and the pets are non-threatening, contrary to people. When you lose one of them, that portion of love in your life is removed, and as much as it hurts to lose a pet, you need to have that love replaced, so you get another pet.

Interaction with pets also reflects the personality of the owner. It represents one’s innermost thoughts, feelings, and needs. Most people have pets to provide the love that they cannot get in any other way. Pets, particularly dogs, love their owners unconditionally, regardless of how they are treated. Who doesn’t want to be adored by someone or something? Other people need to have control, to be able to strike out at something, to get revenge for hurt suffered without having to deal with the cause of the hurt.

Dysfunctional people (in human terms) who cannot deal with others can still satisfy their need to control by training their animals to do what they desire. Seeing that something obeys every command gives a sense of worth to the individual who has a feeling of being worthless. Even having a fish, which eagerly comes to the top of the bowl to get fed, feels good to the lonely and provides the idea of being in control of at least a part of his or her world.

Animals can also keep an elderly person young. They provide a reason to get up and move, to feed, exercise, and take care of the pet friend. They keep loneliness at bay, and are a great way to meet others who share an interest in a similar type of pet.

Because pets do not have the longevity of humans, you are forced to see them come and go while you stay around. This allows you to take stock of how your former pet assisted you with your life’s lessons, and gives you the opportunity to try a new approach to further your growth within a new relationship.