Why do some people love "connecting" with animals?


by Ivan Seeking
Tags: animals, connecting, love, people
Ivan Seeking
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Aug27-09, 11:49 PM
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I was just watching a series about a man who lives among wild bears. While this is a bit extreme, I can appreciate the desire to "connect" with other species.

Why? No, this is not a trick question. I just don't see any particular reason why we would be so inclined. It would seem that the taming of dogs [wolves] and horses, for example, is too recent to be of any evolutionary significance.
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Ivan Seeking
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Aug27-09, 11:53 PM
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I know that personally, in the case of wild animals, it becomes a bit of a challenge to gain the animal's trust.
Math Is Hard
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Aug28-09, 12:34 AM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
I was just watching a series about a man who lives among wild bears. While this is a bit extreme, I can appreciate the desire to "connect" with other species.

Why? No, this is not a trick question. I just don't see any particular reason why we would be so inclined. It would seem that the taming of dogs [wolves] and horses, for example, is too recent to be of any evolutionary significance.
It's a really interesting topic.

Just for myself, and the connection part, I have no control over it. I have an empathy where I feel (in my own body) what I perceive animals are feeling. I think I just pick it up from the animal's condition and how they move and gaze, but I feel (what I think are the animal's own feelings) in myself and I don't know why. There are all these things registering with my senses at very small levels. If some people think this is weird, they should consider that if they see someone biting a lemon, they usually salivate. This empathy isn't a strange paranormal thing, it's just poorly understood. And some people are probably more sensitive than others to cues.

That "desire" to connect with them - I don't really know where that comes from. I tend to think that animals, being cognitively weaker species without language, can activate our protective instincts, and can incite some of the natural urges that we have toward human infants to understand and protect them.

nirax
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Aug28-09, 01:12 AM
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Why do some people love "connecting" with animals?


there is no one cause for 'connection with animals'. just as there is no one cause for sex. sometimes you feel horny. sometimes you want to reward. sometimes you want to make someone else jealous. sometimes you are too afraid to say no. sometimes you are insecure. sometimes you want consolation. sometimes you think u can get away with it. sometimes you are just tempted and regret later. sometimes you still allow yourself to be tempted. sometimes you want to prove your worth. sometimes you want to show you care. sometimes you want to show you don't care. sometimes you want to express love. sometimes you want to express lust. sometimes you want to express hate (??). sometimes you want to earn money. sometimes you want to distract the other ....

and finally very few of us do it very few of the times to make babies.
Ivan Seeking
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Aug28-09, 03:07 AM
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Quote Quote by Math Is Hard View Post
That "desire" to connect with them - I don't really know where that comes from. I tend to think that animals, being cognitively weaker species without language, can activate our protective instincts, and can incite some of the natural urges that we have toward human infants to understand and protect them.
In the case of cats, I have read that they perceive us as parents. I think it is even claimed that cats kept as sheltered pets are effectively emotionally stunted, so to speak, due to their lifetime dependence on mom/dad.

In the case of bears, it is a bit hard to see how our protective instincts would apply. One thing that comes to mind is that the ability to forge peaceful relationships may somehow play a role. I would tend to assume that the ability to coexist peacefullly among humans was critical to successful breeding in primitve humans. Perhaps this drive naturally extends to other species by default.

I once had a friend in high school whose dad owned some beef cattle. He was telling me that you never want to name a cow. As soon as you do, good luck getting the kids to eat it!
nirax
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Aug28-09, 03:24 AM
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which animals are considered adorable also changes with culture, technology and place. a bear in 2nd century AD in russia wud be a great existential threat to humans ans nobody dare consider them cute. in fact they wud be demonised if at all.

an elephant in 30,000 BC africa wud also be a dangerous entity and they wud be shocked that some of us make little cute idols of elephants and treat it as a good luck charm. in India, elephant wud win hands down as the most adorable animal, yet very few wud actually dare to go near one. all of them are very well aware that a single flick of its trunk or feet wud instantly render the adventurer almost dead. so the question is - which elephant do they adore ? and it is a very complex one. it is a cultural construct. it is the idea of an elephant that they worship. and yet I wouldn't be surprised to find african tribes who wud consider elephants as devil incarnate who raids their crops, destroys their homes, ravishes their market places and sometimes kill them for no reason at all (elephants are notoriously dangerous animals and can attack unprovoked).

i maybe getting astray with hypothetically cute animals. but the same genral idea applies to whatever animals we adore.

but i find the next question more interesting -

most of the animals we adore are not useful. cattle is so much useful for humans yet they are not fussed over. dogs/cats are singularly useless yet they get the lions share of our affection. lions/tiger/elephants routinely kill humans, yet they are feted world over in symbols, idioms, musics and TV shows. bears will consume a human alive if given smallest of the chance, yet we make lovely toys and give to our 2 year old toddlers. why is it so ?
tchitt
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Aug28-09, 05:24 AM
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Dogs are useless? Are you kidding? They've been invaluable in many areas including hunting... herding of cattle... protection... general companionship. Also, bears will not consume humans alive given the chance. They're more likely to run away in fear than eat you. It's just a matter of whether you want to throw those particular dice.

I always found cross-species empathy to be incredibly interesting and even beautiful. The idea that animals run on pure instinct and have absolutely no capacity for reason is completely ridiculous, in my opinion. For instance, I love my dog... and I'm pretty sure he loves me. Feeding him was just a catalyst for what eventually became trust and an emotional connection... I really don't care what anyone says I know this to be the truth. (In a subjective, I don't really KNOW this to be the truth sort of way.)

As for WHY... well, I don't know. What it comes down to is that we're not so different, but I don't think most of us are naturally inclined to coexist with other species in such a way. It's just one of those things that happens sometimes. Virtually noone lives with bears, it's complex reasoning skills that lead one to make the CHOICE of living with wild animals... in my opinion it ("connecting" with animals) only became the norm when people realized that certain animals had other uses than just a food supply. Just another manifestation of this gift of invention that we've got.
nirax
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Aug28-09, 06:26 AM
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as they say .. nobody does hunting no more !!

by 'use' i meant pure economic use. 'general companionship' does not count. anyway the question is complicated ... pigs were also one of the first to be domesticated. nobody fusses over them. for example i am sure you wont find this beautiful - your little daughter running and hugging a pig who is grunting and licking her all over, with his little tail wiggling.

what made us decide that dogs we wont eat ... but pigs ! oh yeah ! the fat ugly pigs ... fit only to be eaten. it cant be just the fact that dogs have 'other uses'. cattle too had other uses, we eat them with gusto. the question is made complicated by the fact that some cultures do eat dog however ugly we may find this practice. but this begs the question again - why do we find this disgusting ?
tchitt
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Aug28-09, 06:41 AM
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Quote Quote by nirax View Post
as they say .. nobody does hunting no more !!

by 'use' i meant pure economic use. 'general companionship' does not count. anyway the question is complicated ... pigs were also one of the first to be domesticated. nobody fusses over them. for example i am sure you wont find this beautiful - your little daughter running and hugging a pig who is grunting and licking her all over, with his little tail wiggling.

what made us decide that dogs we wont eat ... but pigs ! oh yeah ! the fat ugly pigs ... fit only to be eaten. it cant be just the fact that dogs have 'other uses'. cattle too had other uses, we eat them with gusto. the question is made complicated by the fact that some cultures do eat dog however ugly we may find this practice. but this begs the question again - why do we find this disgusting ?
I don't mean to be rude, but how old are you? My daughter running and hugging a pig who is grunting and licking her?

Pigs are probably eaten because they yield a larger amount of meat per animal than dogs would. I don't personally find eating anything organic disgusting... we're pretty much here to eat one another. Dogs are used by police to apprehend criminals and find illegal contraband. Can you see a pig chasing down a criminal? And a lot of people do still hunt... and use dogs to do so. Why doesn't companionship count as a "use" for a dog, exactly?

I don't know why I'm even responding to this... but I've been drinking and I'm going to hit the submit reply button anyway. Sorry in advance.


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