Pets‘The danger, I think, is just regarding them as little people and treating them just like rather stupid children which to me is not good for them’

As heard on Today with Sean O'Rourke

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They say that a dog is a man’s best friend, and this couldn’t be more true today, not only with dogs but with all our pets. From posting videos of them on the internet or giving them their very own Facebook accounts, we have never been more obsessed with our beloved pets.

John Bradshaw is a biologist and author of the book: The Animals Among Us: The New Science of Anthrozoology. John spoke with Sean O’Rourke on the topic.

We heard that keeping pets isn’t a modern day phenomenon but we’ve been doing this for a very long time. However, some pets have been more popular than others, to say the least….

Cats only became accepted as pets in the early 19th Century, previous to that John explains how there were a number of religious prohibitions against cats, where cat worship (mainly by women) became a type of cult and was seen to be the work of the devil!

‘When the Catholic Church became the predominant religion in those areas, it saw cat worship as being the work of the devil. So the cat was, particularly black cats or anyone that had one was suspected of being a devil worshipper or a witch’

In fact, many cats, as a result, were killed by their millions and it was much later when Queen Victoria made having a cat as a pet fashionable and slowly everyone else followed suit.

For many of us, the pet of the house is often the boss of the house or sometimes even treated as an extra child. John explained how treating a pet as a family member can be a bad thing.

‘The danger, I think, is just regarding them as little people and treating them just like rather stupid children which to me is not good for them because it means that we won’t understand what they really need as opposed to what we imagine they do.’

Interestingly, for those who are single, it might be good to note that pets can help with your love life! A researcher in France found that a man is more likely to get a date with a dog than without a dog! The researcher was less than 10% successful in getting a girl’s phone number as opposed to when he had a dog with him and consequently got almost a third of phone numbers!

© The Listener 2017

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