What do you think of when you hear or read the words, “human-animal bond”? For many people, images of animals involved in some sort of animal-assisted therapy that improves a disabled person’s quality of life immediately come to mind. Others think of coping with the pain of pet loss, or heroic tales of animals rescuing their owners from burning homes, or search and rescue or military animals performing amazing feats within and beyond the call of duty.
While all of these activities most certainly fall into the realm of the human-animal bond, they also may create the illusion that the bond is something special that can only be experienced only by a relatively small number of people under very specific circumstances. Many of these activities also support the impression that the human-animal bond functions unilaterally and is universally positive in nature; it focuses on the benefits animals bestow on us instead of the good and not so good that we inadvertently or deliberately and routinely bestow on each other in the course of any interaction.
To me such a limited view of the human-animal bond (HAB) sells the bond short.