Man’s best friend, but a woman’s soul mate

Tiser cutout animalsFlinders University researchers have found that the old saying, ‘A Man’s Best Friend’, may have had dog lovers barking up the wrong tree!

That’s because Dr Heather Fraser and Associate Professor Nik Taylor, from Flinders University’s Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, have found that the bond between women and their four legged friends may be even stronger than it is with men.

The researchers, who feature in this morning’s Adelaide Advertiser (page 12), left, set up a website, whatisitaboutanimals, to allow people to share pictures and experiences involving their pets to see how they value the relationship with their animals.

Nearly 6,000 responses later, Dr Fraser, who is a senior lecturer in social work, said that the findings showed women formed even stronger bonds with their pets than men, with many even describing them as their “soul mates”.

Dr Fraser and Associate Professor Taylor, who will present their findings to an international conference in Melbourne next week, are both committed pet owners.

“Puppy love is often thought of as an immature expression of love,” said Dr Fraser. “However, this is not the case when it comes to women loving their dogs, and many women love their dogs as much as their human partners.

“People find it hard to understand such a strong bond, but it is very real.”

Dr Fraser said that one of the things female dog owners also commented on was that they felt their pets were with them for the ‘long haul’.

“Unlike many human love relationships that breakdown, sometimes very quickly, companion animals can be women’s soul mates for the long haul, in the good and bad times,” she said.

She also said that animals provided “therapy without words”.

“One of the great things about therapy from an animal is the different language used to express love and concern,” said Dr Fraser.

“One visitor to the site said that she had the best relationship with her dog, but no words were needed, and that just having her pet there beside her let her know that she was not alone.”

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