"Hello, Fido, How Was Your Day?"
New Book Sheds Light on True Physical, Psychological Links Between Humans, Animals
All the world's a doctor's office, and all the men and animals merely patients.
Animals of all species suffer from the same diseases and conditions as we do, says a new book by a California-based cardiology professor, and the research proves it.
And not just the things you'd think plague all of us, like cancer. Also psychological disturbance like anorexia and overeating and self mutilation, cutting.
The book, "Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing" — written by Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, a cardiology professor at UCLA, and Kathryn Bowers, a writer — perked a lot of ears this week, among them The New York Times and The Diane Rehm Show.
Maybe this should have been more obvious to us.
I've tried multiple times to talk myself out of believing one of my pets was feeling what I felt. When one of my rabbits passed, her friend Sherbert was disinterested, mopey, for weeks.
“Don't project your emotions on him,” I told myself. “He's an animal, his brain is processing it differently.”
But animals are not automated. Sherbert was experiencing the loss, feeling it likely more than I was.
Thankfully we usually don't wait for our pets to physically mouth the words before we mourn together.
Among the other “human” conditions animals appreciate is a sense of intoxication, which can result in addiction.
The feeling alcoholics get from that first sip — that “click in the head,” Brick anticipates in the play, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” — is the same thing cedar waxwings seek from fermented berries. And that a Cocker Spaniel notoriously received from licking cane toads in her yard in Texas.
We're linked in so many ways, veterinarians have a joke: A physician is a vet that treats only one species.
Why don't physicians consult veterinarians more often in the treatment of human beings, the authors ask.
Why don't they? It should be more obvious.
“Breast cancer strikes mammals from cougars, kangaroos and llamas to sea lions, beluga whales and black-footed ferrets,” the adapted New York Times excerpt states.
Our beloved pets, animals in general, are not animetronic beings that exist apart from us. They have genes, they pass on traits, and they get jealous. With this book, hopefully more of us will listen to our inner voice that reminds us people are animals, and that animals are people, too.