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The gift of pets: A look at the human-animal bond

By Maria Julianne Makinano Published Jul 21, 2023 1:53 pm

Owning a pet requires time, effort, and consistency. As the pet owner and fur baby spend more time together, they will get to know each other and form a bond—a bond that does not need to be forced or contrived. Simply by providing them with the basics of care, they will be building a foundation for a strong relationship. 

Emrelle Patawaran, a 20-year-old student, who owns two Golden Retrievers, says when it comes to pets, nothing ever has to be complicated. 

“With pets, it’s just so simple. They just love you. Walang komplikasyon… straight lang yung pagiisip nila na they just love you,” she said.

Actress Alora Sasam told PhilSTAR L!fe during a Royal Canin event that time with her three-year-old Labrador Chachi and her one-year-old standard Poodle Luca is spent with cuddles on the floor.

“Since gusto nila malamig sa floor so dun lang sila tas adjust lang ako. So cuddle cuddle talaga,” Alora said. “Tapos takbo takbo lalo na sa condo, sa labas,” she added. 

Gretchen Fullido

News anchor Gretchen Fullido, who has multiple dogs, also said that as an only child, dogs have become her family.

“They sleep with me. I take them out. We go out of town. We travel,” Gretchen said.  

Constant presence 

Living with pets means their presence becomes a constant. They become a companion, reminding their owners or “pawrents” that they are not alone.

Alora shared that she is emotionally attached to her dogs’ and that she once asked permission to bring Chachi with her during a lock-in taping.

Having a pet’s presence also means that they get to be with you for every moment, whether an achievement or a heartbreak—which is very true for actress Melissa Ricks.

“I couldn't do anything without him,” she said, talking about her 15-year-old Shih Tzu Potychi. “He was there through the tough times, the happy times. Wala pa akong asawa, wala pa akong boyfriend, wala pa akong anak, nandon na siya… Everything through my life. Sobrang attached ko sa kanya.”

Melissa Ricks

Graduating student Katherine Recio, who lost her pet cat Nicole this month, also talked about the importance of a pet’s presence. While Nicole was a stray cat that her family never officially adopted, Katherine still mourned her passing.

“My pets provide me with presence especially when I’m doing late-night chores,” she shared, adding that Nicole usually stays in the backyard and always meowing for attention. “Ever since nawala si Nicole, may kulang na presence sa likod.” 

"They keep you grounded kasi pinapaalala nila sayo na sa mundo na ‘to, we’re just speck of dust na hindi lang ikaw ang may kailangan ng care and attention." — Katherine Recio

Actress Janice de Belen, who has nine dogs, also went through a “slight trauma” after losing a German Shepherd. “Ang sad. So it took a while before I started owning pets again,” she told L!fe during the same event.  

But as years went by, the veteran actress realized that she truly loved having dogs—so much so that she once ended up owning 15 dogs.

A newfound sense of purpose 

Taking care of pets and being responsible for them provides a person something to ground themselves in. According to Katherine, having pets is a reminder that there is so much more to life than the usual hustle and bustle.  

“They also remind you to take a pause. To remove myself from the situation muna and think,” she said. 

Janice de Belen

For her, owning pets is a “humbling and reflective experience.” “They give you something to occupy yourself with other than yourself. They keep you grounded kasi pinapaalala nila sayo na sa mundo na ‘to, we’re just speck of dust na hindi lang ikaw ang may kailangan ng care and attention. There are other beings on this planet,” Katherine added.

Meanwhile, for Emrelle, the sense of purpose and responsibility that comes with caring for another creature is a powerful motivator. She finds meaning in knowing that they are accountable for the life of another being, and they take great pride in providing their pet with a loving and safe home.

“You start to remember why you’re alive,” she said. “It’s a responsibility pero one that doesn’t drain you out. Parang nafu-fulfill ka kasi, okay,  this is another [living] being, I’m taking care of it and it’s living because of my efforts.”

"How can you not be emotionally attached to creatures that give you unconditional love? And their only main goal in life is to love you." — Gretchen Fullido

Mental and emotional support 

Most pet owners would agree that attachment with pets usually roots in them being their emotional support and this may be the number answer.

Despite not having the same qualities as human beings, pets are smart enough to have the power to read and feel emotions. They can provide a sense of companionship and security that sometimes people cannot get from other humans. 

One of them who emphasized this is Rubionline Rubio, 20, who has two dogs: a Shih Tzu named Sandy and a Pomeranian named Cali. For her, the best thing about owning pets is the comfort that they provide after a long day.  

“Maririnig lang nila yung footsteps mo, sobra na silang nagta-tappy toes… maririnig mo yung pagjump nila, yung pagkahol nila,” she narrated. “'Yung feeling na may sasalubong sayo after ng nakakapagod na araw, 'yun yung sobrang gaan sa pakiramdam. Grabe yung warmth na binibigay nila.”

When the pandemic hit, people were faced with several challenges, both physical and mental. Many people turned to own pets as a way to cope with the stress and isolation of the pandemic, and Gretchen was one of them. 

“I will not survive this world without my dogs. They are the perfect stress relievers after a long day. And during the pandemic, if we didn’t have pets at home, we would probably go insane,” the TV Patrol newscaster said, adding that she believes that dogs have souls like people.

Likewise, Janice feels the same way. She described her dogs as her “joy” during the pandemic, a time when she had the chance to be with them 24/7.

“I think when I started working again, nagkaron sila ng konting anxiety,” she shared.

Enigmatic love

The relationship between a pet and an owner is unique and special. Each person may have their reasons for being emotionally attached to their pet, but ultimately, it all boils down to love.

“How can you not be emotionally attached to creatures that give you unconditional love? And their only main goal in life is to love you,” Gretchen said.  

Melissa, for her part, said that the more dogs there are, the more love there is.

Alora Sasam

“They love you no matter what eh? It doesn't matter what you have, what you look like, how much money you have. They love you for you and pag-uwi mo sa bahay, yung sasalubungin ka, it's a different feeling talaga,” the Nasaan Ka, Elisa? star said.  

The actress added that pets do not expect anything in return. “Naniniwala ako na if you have a dog, that dog is for you, meant for you, that's why dapat you should they care of it kasi they love you with all your heart and nothing else.”

No matter how they described their attachments to their pets, all of the fur parents that we interviewed had something in common: they have this undeniable twinkle in their eyes and fondness in their voices. It’s because the love between a pet and its owner is a pure and unconditional one. It is a bond that goes both ways, and it is difficult to put into words.