Why Do We Keep Pets?

We all keep pets (dogs, cats, horses, guinea pigs, parrots, etc…) because it pleases us. We feel good about having pets. One way or another, pet ownership satisfies some need of ours. There’s nothing wrong with that, in principle. All harmonious relationships are “give and take.” If we give in the same measure as we take, everyone should be happy. Species do not matter, in this context. Nature gives us many examples of animals of different species forming harmonious relationships with benefits for all parties.

That being the case, it seems to me, each of us (pet owners) should ask, “what do I give back to my pet?”

I’m not thinking about a place to sleep, food and medical care. Those are the self-evident duties most (if not all) pet owners do observe. I’m thinking about allowing our pets to be the animals they were (and are) before they became our pets.

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As I said, there’s nothing wrong with our selfish motives for pet ownership, but we may have a problem if we don’t realize it, or deny it. Then, we may fall into a series of pseudo-explanations, inadequate interpretations, and knee-jerk solutions—and that’s abuse in my book.

I have a deep respect for all life independently of species and race. It appears to me that the pet/owner relationship, in this one aspect, should not be much different from any other relationship, be it with a spouse, a lover, a friend, a parent, a child. We should be content with what they can give us and not ask for what they can’t give. We should grant them plenty of room to be themselves. And, we should never take any relationship for granted. Every new day should be one more day we should feel privileged to share with that particular living being—independently of species.

Think about it. Am I wrong?

Have a fabulous day!

Featured image: Every new day is one more day we are privileged to share with any particular living being—independently of species.

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Roger Abrantes

Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology and Ethology, BA in Philosophy. Author to 27 books, speaks seven languages. Retired in 2016, lectured on Ethology, Evolutionary Biology, and Epistemology. Currently writing articles and blogs and occasionally sailing and diving in Thailand.

View all articles by Roger Abrantes

Ethology Institute