Yes, I admit it. My dog is my child. No, that doesn’t mean I clothe her in outfits, or push her around in a baby carriage everywhere . . . I let her be a dog. It's just that the love I feel for her is very real, and I’m always thinking about her best interests, just as I would for a child. Some members of my extended family simply don’t understand this. They look at me funny because I home cook for her, and they are simply appalled by the fact that she has free reign of seating furniture in my home. I must say I secretly enjoy when any not-so-dog-loving guests drop by for a visit, and my beautiful 4-legged Luna takes her position by my side on the couch, sitting erect, not wanting to miss any of the conversation. And I’m telling you . . . if she could speak, she’d be far more interesting to listen to than some members of this close-minded bunch.
So at the last gathering of not-so-dog-loving folk, when a wise crack was made about “princess” Luna on the couch, I started a conversation about Oxytocin, a hormone produced in the brain that is released when people are snugging or bonding socially, and one that is very important in promoting the bond between mother and child. Then I casually brought up a recent study conducted by Takefumi Kikusui at Azabu University in Japan about the bond between humans and their canine companions, the findings to which my guests had no response:
Science validated what I, and millions of other dedicated pet parents, have known all along. We do see them as our children. A devoted pet parent has the same hormonal response to seeing or engaging with their animal, as do mothers interacting with their infant children. Likewise, the dog has the same hormonal response when gazing into the eyes of their human. The longer the interaction, the longer the eye contact, the stronger the response. Even subjects that simply looked at photos of their pets generated an elevated oxytocin level. On a side note, this response was not elicited if the subjects saw photos of other people’s dogs. It was only in response to their animal . . . their fur baby.
So for the doubters out there, the human “n” canine bond is real. But we pet parents didn’t need a study to confirm that. One look into our dogs eyes is all the proof we need.
So go hug your pup, and let the oxytocin flow!