There are few things in life that give us as much satisfaction as when we are loved and appreciated. When we know that we are important to someone else and that we are on their minds, we have a deep sense of worth and purpose.
Sadly, there is an increasing number of people in society who never enjoy being the object of another's attention or interest. For one reason or another they live unto themselves. They may be shy or self-conscious, or they may have developed a distrusting spirit for people. Whatever the reason, aside from work and shopping, they have become virtual hermits in society.
Such circumstances do not eliminate the basic need we all have to feel that we are loved and needed. Whether our loner status is the result of being shunned by society or a self-imposed moratorium toward gregarious behavior, the need to feel important remains and there needs to be an accommodation of this need in our lives.
Enter the beloved pet. For those who cannot or will not develop human bonds, there is the alternative of pet friendship. Of course, keeping a pet is something anyone can enjoy. Great relationships with pets are enjoyed by everyone. Still, somehow for those who are lonely for human companionship, it seems they cling more closely to their pets than those of us who balance our lives with both human and animal friends. The pet is all they have. All of their social need is vested in their relationship with that pet.
In all probability, we all know someone like this. To some they may seem odd, almost anti-social. However, it is nothing more than someone trying to fill the basic desire they have for friendship or companionship. No doubt they would prefer to also have human relationships, but again, for whatever reasons, this just is not likely.
A young lady who worked for me while I was on active duty is a good example of this. She was relatively attractive and a nice person. She was a hard worker and did a good job. She was well-liked and friendly. However, she just could not seem to forge a relationship with others. She did not date and she did not have friends outside of work.
She funneled her need for companionship into her pets. She kept cats. In fact, she had nine of them. Her whole life apart from work centered on her animal friends. Her time and money was spent making their lives comfortable. In turn, they made her feel that she was needed and appreciated.
Although one of my majors was Psychology, I am not a licensed practitioner and I do not suppose to have all the answers to anti-social behavior. Still, common sense and experience tells me that people who have difficulty relating to people seldom will change their outlook without professional guidance.
For these people and really for the rest of us too, those animals we label "pets" are God-sends. Much has been written about the courageous and valor of these wonderful creatures who have graced us by walking alongside us through history. There are stories of heroism and bravery, of perseverance and strength. We immortalize our pets with statues and memorials and capture their contributions in song and literature.
They are marvelous creatures at those celebrated levels, but they also fill the gaps and voids in uncelebrated ways. They companion the unwanted. They befriend those that no one else wants. They are everywhere, silently doing their jobs, making those who feel unloved, loved and adding importance to their lives.