Do you have friends who have pets back at home? Talk to any pet owner and you will surely hear stories about the wonders of having a pet.
However, if recent studies are to be seen, the benefits of having a pet go far beyond that of just happiness and companionship.
According to a story published in the Conversation Global, pet owners are seen to have more social capital, where pets benefit the society at large by creating networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively.
With August 26 being International Dog Day, it is only pertinent that we ask what really is the importance of keeping a pet? Pet owners and experts say that having a pet at home creates all the difference in a world where people have become far removed from the beauty of companionship.
Speaking about his pet, actor Karan Kundra says that his pet is what brings his extended family that is scattered all across the world together.
“My dog is the centre of attention of both mine and my girlfriend's family. My family is scattered across the US and Canada and Monster is what brings us together!”
Priyanshi Singh; Canine Behaviourist says that while the world has become an uncertain place to live in, dogs provide a constancy that others may not be able to provide.
“The world we live in is known for the uncertainties it throws our way. People turn strangers in no time,” she says before going on to add, “Friendships are built on the foundations of trust, loyalty and dependability and dogs are the best synonyms for all of those things.”
Elucidating on having a pet dog, Priyanshi says, “Dogs have proven themselves time and again to be loyal, kind, understanding, and in possession of an indomitable spirit. They are able to greet us happily after what may have been the worst day of our, and make us feel better with a wag of the tail and a playful grin.”
Adding to the concept of social capital that pets are known to influence, Dr. Kallahalli Umesh; Waltham Scientific Communication Manager, South Asia Mars India is of the opinion that they are a key builder to the concept of a happy and safe society.
“Not only does pet-keeping benefit the owner in many ways but there is a growing body of work to suggest it is a key builder of ‘social capital’ within a community.”
He goes on to add, “Communities with higher social capital have healthier residents, less crime, more trust between people and healthier economies. The central premise of social capital is that networks have value.”
Umesh says that one of the biggest influences of having a pet is that pet ownership has been found to enhance this development in social networking.
“Pets have a natural ‘social facilitation’ effect between complete strangers and the net effect of these pet-facilitated individual exchanges is a community that has a higher value social capital than if there were no pets.”
He concludes, “The concept of social capital gives us a new platform from which to talk about HCAB/RPO. It can be summarised as a shift from ‘Pets are good for people’ to ‘Pets are good for entire communities’.”
Interestingly humans have always been drawn to animals, and if historical evidence is anything to go by, the association has always propelled the society forward, from hunting, to herding and domesticating them, society at large has always benefited from pets.