Pets seem to be so completely perfectly matched for us humans. Why do pets play such an important role in many of our lives? The answer has many facets, and the story begins way back to the earliest of human civilizations.
The early ancestors to our modern day dogs and cats existed even by the time when the Egyptian pyramids were built. Hand-drawn pictures of pets with humans appear in the art found in the tombs, which means they would have been domesticated at some level by then.
Could it be that long, long ago, once humans could hunt well, scraps of meat and bone left behind attracted them? Then, once humans could make fire, the smells of fire-cooked meat drew coyotes or wolves to befriend us! (That's how I imagine it went down, anyway.)
The animals who did get fed by humans could breed more successfully (or be bred) thanks to the improved and easier access to nutrition than, perhaps, the completely wild animals nearby. So humans played a role in the animals' overall success as a species on Planet Earth.
One of the reasons cats and dogs are the most popular is that many of their life habits can coincide with our life habits peaceably. Humans are inherently social, as well as are many species of pets. And both humans and pets are happy to mingle -- and carry on interspecies communication, or socialize with other species.
It has been said that aside from their different looks and four-legged-ness, their behavior is similar to ours in a sweepingly general way: They're generally good-natured (except when protecting their young), territorial, and appreciative of a full food plate. Sounds just like us.
The reason we get along so well with them, is quite simply compatibility.
Most noteworthy is the fact not to be overlooked that many of our pets can be "potty trained" if you will.
And many other habits can be trained into -- or out of -- these animals; they are not born mean or wild, they learn from birth, much like us. They are an open slate when pups or kittens.
They do perceive love and can be loving in return. They like feeling safe, and being with you, just for company. And of course their "cuteness" is somewhat intoxicating -- it just fills your heart right on up.
I guess you could say that pets are ... just perfect.
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Barb Kerbox of Eureka Springs is a longtime pet-lover, pet owner and animal caretaker, as well as a contributing writer and photographer.