You don’t have to carry your pet around with you in a purse for the special animal in your life to be like another member of the family. For those of us with pets, it is easy to forget that your furry friend is actually animal, rather than human.
Given our deep attachments to our pets, University of Warwick sociologist Nickie Charles encourages fellow social scientists investigating kinship and community to seriously consider humans’ relationships with their pets. Drawing on 249 qualitative responses regarding pets, she writes, “People turn to animals for companionship and intimacy; pets provide the ontological security which is no longer forthcoming from relations with humans, which are fragile, fluid and contingent.”
Beyond the role that pets play in the lives of their owners, examining these human-animal relationships may lead to a deeper understanding of the ways humans form relationships with one another.