Friday, January 6, 2012

Can You Imagine Living in a World Without Animals?

By Julia Williams

I read a thought-provoking post recently on one of my favorite pet blogs, 24 Paws of Love. She wrote of having a day where things were going from bad to worse and just as she was about to “lose it,” the sight of two dogs instantly calmed her down. Mind you, these were not her own dogs, who were at home while she was out and about. She wrote, “I didn't need to touch them or have any major connection with them, their presence was enough to settle those frayed emotions. All it takes sometimes is a glimpse of an animal, whether it be wild or domesticated, to feel back in touch with myself.” She went on to ask if others felt this same connection with the animal world, where just seeing them could elicit comfort and a sense of belonging.

Oh yes, I thought to myself…all the time. I understood this feeling completely, having had similar experiences time and again, for as long as I can remember. But what surprised me is that several others said they felt the same. I’d always thought it was somewhat uncommon to feel so innately and intensely connected to animals, even (and especially) those that are not your own. I now realize I may have been wrong about that. There are others like me, who would not really know how to live in a world without animals. 

In the presence of animals, I feel more grounded and more comfortable than I do with people. I empathize more with animals than I do with humans, and feel as though they are somehow more like me than any human I know. Developing a deep bond with an animal is second nature to me, but to feel a meaningful connection with another human takes a lot of effort. It can be done, but it doesn’t happen nearly as naturally for me.

I’ve long held the belief that you are either born an animal lover, or not. Further, that this sense of connection to animals is not hereditary or a product of our environment. I really think it’s either there at birth, or it isn’t. Now, sometimes we can suppress this love just as we can also amplify it by our life choices. In other words, if our parents were not animal lovers and did not want a pet, it may take being out on our own before we realize that we don’t feel the same way. Conversely, we might know that we love animals and love having a pet, but it takes a certain pet coming into our lives to make us realize how vitally important they are to us and our sense of well-being.

Why some people have this innate, intense connection to animals and others don’t is likely not something we’ll ever be able to figure out. It doesn’t really matter anyway. I just know that for me, living in a world – or a home – without animals would feel so empty and unnatural. It would be a living nightmare, which I’m sure seems extreme to people who are apathetic about animals, like my mother. When I asked her to imagine what it would be like to live in a world without animals, she said she wouldn’t miss the dogs that are always barking, and pooping in her yard. She said she wouldn’t really care if there were no animals in the world. It seems so strange to me, to think that a mother and daughter could hold such disparate views, and yet we do.

I couldn’t imagine not seeing that first robin in the yard each spring. I couldn’t imagine going to a park and not seeing squirrels scamper up and down the trees. I couldn’t imagine walking around town and not greeting at least two or three dogs or cats playing in their own yards. I couldn’t imagine coming home to an empty house, devoid of the calming presence of my pets. And I’ll tell you what – I am just so thankful I don’t have to!

Photo by Patti Haskins

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. You can tell your mother that if there were no animals in the world Homo Sapiens wouldn't be here, either. :-)

    Terrific post, absolutely relate to it.

  2. WE totally agree. But I have discovered there are two different kinds of love for animals. Some people love the animal for what it can do for the person, such as a horse can be ridden. A dog can do trick. Or a person can love an animal just because they are just an animal that needs love. All animals need love of some sort. I truly believe that my cats love to get some attention from me. Great post.

  3. I have to have a furry face every day. It's like breathing; it HAS to happen.

  4. I loved her post and had the same thing going through my mind. Animals have a way of making us smile no matter what kind of day we're having. To sit outside and watch all of the animals go about their daily chores and rounds (for the cats in the neighborhood) makes everything seem alright.

  5. Our Mommy is lucky. Her whole family is animal-lovers! They often laff about how emotionally involved they get wif each other's pets! My Mommy was soo sad when her sisbean lost her pup, as if it was her own!

  6. I couldn't agree more. I love the way you elaborated on a belief that, like you I am discovering there are actually more people who think like me.

    Like you, human relationships don't happen as naturally as with animals.

    Very well said. Thanks for the plug. :)

  7. You know, when the Human's last Kitty, Clarkie, went to the Bridge, she could not stand the quiet empty house, and she gotted me only three days later. She was feeling a little bad about it, like it might be disrespectful to get a kitten so soon, but the vet told her Clarkie would be honored because he had been such a good kitty he had taught her that she should never be without one. She liked that idea.

  8. A wonderful well-written post!

    Can't imagine a world without animals! There would be so lifeless and hopeless!!!

  9. I agree too and if animals were in charge the world would probably be a calmer and better place!

  10. Totally agree. My father professed not to love animals, but we had a cat growing up and he always greeted her first before he said hi to the rest of us! I think people who don't love animals are either suppressing it and/or who haven't had the light switched on yet! Not sure if I would trust them either?! It's a conundrum!

  11. I completely agree...I agree with everything here in your blog. Thank goodness we have these precious inncents to care for and love and who love us.

    xoxoxox Mom Carole

  12. Julia - now that I am surrounded by such like-minded people in the blogosphere, I know we would all agree with a resounding "Yes," that we could not imagine a world without these beloved creatures.

    Sadly, there is still a world out there that does not fully grasp the enormous capacity that these animals have to give us love, devotion, and companionship. I know for me, I feel totally lost when there is not an animal in my presence.

  13. A perfect post and we agree with every word!

    Julie says..I probably have more pets now than I should (we've upped to four cats and a dog), but something made me adopt them, give them homes, love, and they have given me so much in return, it's immeasurable. And the laughs! They are so cute in so many ways. The soul sings!

    Tom, Mittens & mom Julie

  14. We agree wholeheartedly, Julia! If you ask us, it wouldn't be much of a world without animals in it!

  15. After losing my Coco after 16 years, I thought that's it, no more cats, it's so heartbreaking. We figured we'd give her brother Merlin a good life until he died and then we'd be free to travel extensively, move to another country but he was so lonely and you know the rest of the story. We have four cats now but that's our limit, no really ;-)


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