Pets are all too important in some people’s lives, and as real-life community ties decline it seems that more people are getting dogs. I wanted to see what research there is about this, and was glad to find a rational discussion at a site for dog lovers – a dog blog. The writer says that of course it’s obvious that pets cannot satisfy our need for human companionship and community. So why do some dog owners insist that their pets are “just like people” or “just like family”?
. . . among people who live alone and have ”insufficient” social ties, high attachment to a dog or cat can serve to only increase the pet-owner’s likelihood of loneliness and depression.
People with limited community connections, the study shows, were more likely to humanize their dog — and to nurture their relationship with their dog at the expense of their personal lives. Typically, those people were more depressed, visited the doctor more often and took more medications.