Just capturing few paragraphs here….very articulate and interesting read.
No one ever tells you that begging for a dog as an 11-year-old could affect you deeply as an adult. They just make you promise to clean up after the animal.
No one ever tells you that when your dog is dying, it feels like a human is dying. At first, I tried to suppress the grief. But so many other dog owners said things like, “It felt like a family member had died.” As a data person, all I could see was a growing sample size.
So instead of mourning — or maybe this was my mourning — I sat next to Rainbow during her final days, and I read research papers and books about humans’ relationship with dogs.
As it turns out, we really are two species with an odd, symbiotic relationship.
It turns out there’s a reason it feels like a human has died.
This is why dogs are like humans — or (sometimes) better!
In order to understand our current relationships with dogs, we have to understand our relationships with other humans.
It all goes back to this thing called “attachment theory,” which posits that humans have a biological tendency to form attachments for survival reasons. At first this is usually with mothers, but later it can be with friends and romantic partners.
Now scholars are seeing this type of attachment with pets, specifically dogs.
The reason it felt like a human died is because, in so many ways, dogs are like us. They spend much of their life caring for us, and letting us care for them. Their life arc is our life arc, from suburb to city, from hardship to bliss. I didn’t know how to say goodbye. But in the moment, there was only one thing I actually wanted to say to Rainbow, my white dog: Thank you.