I love hanging out with my BFF. He’s cuddly, smart, as loyal as can be, and sweet — until he starts biting my hand. I’m talking about my dog best friend, Hank, BTW, who’s still growing out of the puppy stage. While I definitely have some pretty fantastic human friends, there’s something super special about spending time with my fluffy little buddy. After all, there has to be a reason why people say that a dog is a girl’s best friend, right? If your dog is your best friend, first of all, same, but second of all, a new survey might help explain why exactly you’d rather chill with your pup than your bestie on a Friday night.
The survey, conducted by dog-friendly Mercure Hotels and OnePoll.com, returned some super sentimental results for pup owners everywhere. Fifty-three percent of survey respondents said that they preferred the company of their pup pals to their human friends, so if you’ve ever ditched your BFF in favor of snuggling on the couch with your dog, then you are definitely not alone, my friend.
But why is this such a common phenomenon? Why do so many of us prefer to spend time with animals than with actual people? Well, according to John Bradshaw, an honorary research fellow at the University of Bristol in England and author of the book The Animals Among Us, there are lots of reasons why you might seek the company of your dog on a stressful day as opposed to your best friend, one of which has to do with how most people perceive pets in general. People with animals are viewed as more trustworthy individuals, Bradshaw told The Washington Post. "I think it actually explains quite a lot — people are believed when they tell nice stories about animals," he told the publication.
But BFFs aren’t the only ones getting the boot in favor of quality time with a pup, according to the OnePoll.com survey. If you’ve ever been jealous of how much time your partner spends with their pet, your concern might not be unfounded, as 17 percent of people in the survey said that they’d rather spend time with their pet than their significant other. #Relatable.
Interestingly, Bradshaw told The Washington Post that the roots of this run deep in history. "People who were seen to be good with animals were more accepted by other people in their tribe," he explained to the publication, "and there may have even been some selection for brides and grooms based on affinity with animals." Isn’t that wild to think about?
What’s more, while some people may consider empathy to be a uniquely human trait, Carl Safina, an environmental writer and author of the book Beyond Words: How Animals Think and Feel, believes otherwise. Dogs may not be able to communicate with you using English words, but according to Safina, they can definitely pick up on your feelings and sense a strong connection to you. "The only thing [dogs] cannot do is speak to us in full sentences, but they communicate all the time," Safina told National Geographic — which makes sense when you think about it. After all, if you’ve ever seen one of those heartwarming news stories of a dog rescuing a child from danger, then you know there’s a meaningful connection of some kind between canines and humans. It’s complicated, and we may not know exactly why that connection exists, but you can’t doubt that it’s there.
Bottom line: Having a pet around just makes you feel better, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which, after surveying hundreds of pet owners, found that "pets can serve as important sources of social support," not to mention offer "many positive psychological and physical benefits for their owners."
If you’re a proud dog mom, hug your pooch a little closer, and maybe plan a special outing just for the two of you to hit a nearby park or grab some dog-friendly froyo.
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