Of cats and dogs and matters of the heart

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The existential relationship between humans and domesticated animals encompasses the very nature of what it means to live in harmony with other creatures, as well as tracking in the path of the development of human civilization. In modern parlance, this unique relationship often constitutes the substance of many acronyms belonging to organizations that foster a deeper understanding of bonding phenomena and promote their positive effects on health and well-being. For example, the vision statement of the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) foundation states that it is to demonstrate that the human relationship with pets and animals makes for a better world by bringing about significant improvements in both human health and quality of life. Its mission is to ‘encourage informed decisions that support the presence of pets and animals in society by advancing the science that demonstrates the positive roles they play in the integrated health of individuals, families, and communities’ (http://www.habri.org). Information disseminated by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifically delineates these positive roles with respect to benefits: pet ownership can decrease blood pressure (BP), cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and also feeling of loneliness; it can also increase opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities, and socialization (http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits/index.html).

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