Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why Pets? Why Cute?

In yesterdays coments, carl said...
I think that the more interesting question is why humans have pets at all. Other species don't in the wild -- I've heard of captive chimps having dolls or pets, but that must be an awfully artificial environment for them.

Maybe we started out by joining packs of dogs to help us hunt, and then transferred our loyalty to wider circles of species.

I think this is an interesting question, and answer.  It is clear that people have used animals to help them hunt (dogs helped hunt, hence bonded with men, who were traditionally hunters) or protect what is gathered (cats protected grains from rodents, hence bonded with women).  i am sure the feminists in the group (of which I consider myself one) may find these generalizations offensive, but, they are interesting and worthy of discussion, I hope.  Other animals have been useful as foods themselves (rabbits, goats) or to produce food (once again goats, or cows who produce milk).  That said, I think that we have a natural affinity and affection for animals which extends beyond their usefulness.  Could it be the amazement that our instinct of fear is overcome with trust and affection trans-species?

While cute overload is horribly anthropomorphic, as I have said before, it still is an excellent collection of animal pictures of all types.  One category of pictures, called "interspecies snorgling", (yes, saccharine, I realize) has a lot of pictures of animals "bonding" in unexpected ways.  And an earlier blog here reported a monkey and pigeon who had formed a special bond.  We don't understand these traits in ourselves, but I am not convinced that other animals don't also have them to a degree.  

No comments:

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple
Sutcliffe and Maryann in early 2007