People choose to move out of urban areas to more rural environments for various reasons - two-lane main streets instead of traffic-jammed freeways, smog-free blue sky days and star-filled nights, low crime, friendly faces, and a slower pace. But what often tops the list is a love for the animals who live with us and the desire to give them a good home.
For many, the move to the country is all about horses. But other critters rank high on the list as well. Goats are a favorite, beloved for their human sounding baa’s and their quizzical facial expressions. Donkeys are easily adored. Llamas and alpacas make the list. A hen house rewards the owner with farm fresh eggs. And of course it’s definitely about the dogs! How wonderful to give them room to roam and plenty of earthy off-leash potty options!
What is it with the animal kingdom that so engages us humans, that brings us comfort, keeps us laughing, and keeps our hearts happy and full? If you stop and think about it, you might find it hard to put your finger on it, and yet you know it’s true. These guys somehow manage to wiggle their way into our hearts.
Some say the rapport we have with our animals is based on their emotional make-up being similar to human emotional make-up. Also animals, like humans, have “personalities.” There is scientific evidence that for many people, getting a horsey hug, or exchanging eye contact with their dog, or stroking their curled up lap cat can cause the release of a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is that warm and fuzzy “love” hormone that makes us connect and bond, feel close, and feel good.
Maybe the love for our animals is chemically based in part. Still there are many other possible reasons. Psychological reasons could include the need to nurture, the need for companionship, the need for simplicity. But there is another possibility that could out-weigh all the others — that we are attracted to our animals because animals don’t lie.
Let’s face it - we humans are born into a world of deceit. We learn to whisper secrets at the earliest age. We get the Santa Claus story, the stork story, the games of play-like and pretend. And then we get advertising that creates needs out of non-needs. We get pressure to be “cool.” We get the spin, the false narrative, the fake news. We see wars fought on false pretexts, and… Suffice it to say, we humans are ravenous for a little honesty, for a straight shooter.
Ray Hunt (1929-2009) was a great fore-father of “horse whispering,” a master horseman and master teacher. He made the following comment in one of his horsemanship clinics, "The horse is honest, you see. He can kick you and buck you off and that's an honest approach. The human - that's something else. But the horse -- he's straight. And he'll come through, if you allow it....” (For more about Ray’s clinic see Ray Hunt, A Legend In His Own Time)
Maybe we love our animals because we can trust them to be straight with us, to let us know exactly how they feel about what’s going on, and about what we’re doing to them. That we can trust them can be refreshing in a world where we’re often dealing with “hidden agendas.”
Or maybe even more relevant is that they trust us! Once an animal claims us and refers to us as “my human” they begin to trust us unconditionally. They look up at us with those big round eyes and wait patiently for us. They just know we’ll be coming through with a big bowl of dog chow. Being trusted is a wonderful and empowering feeling. And the reality is, we will come through for them. Invariably! Because, for whatever reasons, we really love our animals.
- RC Editor