By Dr. Patty Khuly | vetstreet.com
ThinkstockLast February, I penned a post for my personal blog detailing several choice reasons why pets are better than boyfriends. It's a notion I warmed to after spending many a Valentine's Day avoiding amateur night on the dining scene, basking in the delicious comforts of animal companionship instead.
Though my cranky posts may never change anyone's mind on the wisdom of spending one's annual "day of romance" cuddling puppies instead of people, as it happens, I may not have to.
See Also: Would You Date a Non-Pet Person?
Turns out more Americans than ever are adopting pets. Which might not be news to you. But did you know U.S. pet ownership rates are rising fastest among the never-married, widowed, separated and divorced?
Now that's news! Could it be that pets are replacing people as default companions of choice in our culture? Given our increased geographic isolation and the continued prevalence of other trends that reflect the decentralization of the American family unit, perhaps it's no surprise after all.
Then there's the obvious: Pets really can make better partners than people. It's not for everyone, of course, but I think we can all identify with a time in our lives when humans let us down and animals seemed a better choice of cohorts - even if only for a while.
Consider these tongue-in-cheeky factors when weighing the relative value of spending time with pets over people:
1. Pets don't care that you've just been dumped or got laid off. In fact, they're likely to really appreciate any extra time you can offer them in your emotional convalescence.
2. Pets are the best listeners in the world. If you've got an issue to hash out, they're great at paying attention (though I find this always works best when I'm eating anything with peanut butter on it).
3. Pets are always happy to do things your way and on your schedule. But peanut butter helps here, too.
4. Pets love you just the way you are. Why stress out over those extra pounds, crappy job, thinning hair or messy home when in your pet's eyes you can do no wrong?
5. Your parents will almost universally approve of your pick of pets. Your choice in friends? Not so much.
6. Old friends and new pets almost always mix. Unlike human-human interactions, which can be unduly adverse, jealousy is rarely an issue.
7. Pets are equal opportunity snugglers. Whether you're sick or you just got a bad haircut, they're 100 percent judgment-free.
8. If you need exercise, pets are eager to comply. Pets are always happy to play along or watch - without all that needless heckling of your downward dogs.
9. Pets are so easy when it comes to relaxing. For example, at TV time, they'll always cede the remote to your control (but maybe not the popcorn).
10. You're never too old for your pets. Crow's feet, spare tires and leaky pipes mean nothing to them. Your easy way with a spoonful of peanut butter, however…
I'm not suggesting that your recently divorced brother or widowed aunt eschew human company. Nor can I claim animal company always bests the Homo sapiens variety. But one thing I do know for sure is that all humans - especially those bereft of people partnerships in their lives - are way better off cohabitating with animals than going it alone.
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