Why we love our animals so much: join the study

Animal Lover

A large number of Australians describe themselves as ‘animal lovers’.

For many, the term helps to explain their close bond with companion animals such as dogs and cats.

For others, it is a way of expressing the joy and satisfaction that they feel when interacting with wildlife or animals in need of help.

Two South Australian researchers are investigating the perceptions and meanings that we humans attach to our relationships with animals.

Dr Nik Taylor and Dr Heather Fraser of Flinders University in Adelaide say they are keen to dig deeper than stereotypical terms such as ‘animal lover’. They want to know how such people truly feel about their animals and how they describe these relationships.

The study provides the opportunity for participants to represent their stories through photos, poems, videos, paintings, stories and writing.

To this end, the researchers have set up a website where animal lovers can post their accounts, with the emphasis on being creative and having fun.

There have been many amazing posts since the study was launched late last year. Some are sad and others funny, but all of the tales are uplifting.

For example, an animal lover with a psychiatric illness writes about her pet dog: ”When I’m unwell, he stands by me and does not judge. The importance of friendship, love and companionship that my dog provides is beyond words.’’

Typical of many stories is a post headed “I need him as much as he needs me’’, in which a dog owner writes tenderly of the ‘’companionship and therapy’’ that she derives from caring for her pet.

To contribute to this study on the meanings people make of their relationships with animals, you need to be over 15 years of age and respect the welfare and rights of animals.

Visit whatisitaboutanimals.com to find out more.


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