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Bond between humans and their pets can be remarkable

By HELEN PALMER

K9 Corner

There have been many articles written about the “human-animal bond.” However, new studies are always in the works, so additional information is available to anyone desiring to learn more.

The best known stories of this true bonding come from people using service dogs.

Back in the 1950s, the only kind of service dog available was the guide dogs for the blind. Now, there are dogs trained to hear and alert their deaf people of specific noises; dogs trained to signal their human that a seizure is imminent.

There are dogs that pull wheelchairs, gather the soiled clothes, load the washing machine, put the clean wet clothes in the drier and finally pull the dried clothes out and deliver them to a human for folding. These handy dogs can also open and shut doors, turn on lights, call elevators, make beds and do all sorts of useful chores. Of course, they need a human to give directions and help if able. Most important is the praise these dogs receive for their help and assistance.

Since service dogs live side by side with their challenged humans, there is no wonder that a firm bond exists. It is this kind of bond that has created the various legends of dogs keeping a lifelong vigil after their human died. Dogs do grieve when someone or something close to them leaves: either temporarily as for a trip or permanently as caused by death.

My first dog bonded with me. On long trips she could sense that I was getting tired even before I noticed. I understood her nudging meant “Stay alert” and not “Potty break.” However, by stopping at a rest area, she got to stretch her legs before I poured myself a cup of coffee. The other two dogs that traveled with me in those days either watched out the window or slept. I’ll never forget meeting a large black bear eating road kill in the middle of the road in northern Michigan. The dog in the back seat whined and prepared to bark; I was commanding “quiet” in my sternness, quietest voice, but it was my first dog that demanded and received the necessary silence. She leaned over the seat back and gave a low growl. We slid by the bear without it even noticing us.

The question of how one can bond to a new dog or pup was asked. First, plan to spend time with the animal. If you walk, take him along, otherwise, play fetch or hide and seek with small treats for a period and then let him free to follow you when you return to the house from your fenced-in backyard. Second, have the dog sleep in the bedroom. With my first dog I was told that letting your pet sleep in the same room with you creates a close bond because dogs are pack animals and the pack sleeps together. Your pet should have his own bed on the floor or his own private place in a dog crate.