What is the purpose of having a pet?

I don’t understand it. How does having an animal enhance your life?

Is it a power thing? Do you feel unloved or unwanted? Do you feel you have no purpose in life, and having an animal gives you purpose?

In fact, I’d propose that owning a pet is a subconcious egomaniacal act of self importance. “This animal is completely dependent on me for its life!”

Humans can be jerks, morons, shallow, cruel, bigots, child-abusers, wife-beaters, and just plain assholes.

Animals love you unconditionally and are always their for you, so long as you love them back.

Wow. With an OP like that, shouldn’t this be in the pit?

Just because you don’t undertstand pet ownership, you assume that the people who do own pets do so for the absolute worst reasons?

I’m a pet owner. I’ve had dogs all my adult life. Had an African Grey parrot for years. Tropical fish too. My daughter has gerbils. We used to have cats, too.

Trust me on this - not once have I thought, “I have total power over these creatures! BWAHAHAHA!” In fact, I’ve always felt responsible for them. Knowing that the creature is ultimately dependent on you for its well being can be a burden, and one I take very seriously.

So why have them? Well, part of it scratches some need deep down in the psyche. Take dogs, for example. Humans and dogs have been together for so long that we’re almost a symbiotic pair. My dogs have always been companions. I’d take them everywhere with me. Just having a dog sitting on the seat beside me in the car, grinning happily, lifts my spirits.

My dog is also a companion for my daughter, who is an only child. That dog brings a lot of joy to her life. They go biking together, they play games together, or they just curl up together to read or watch TV.

Dogs are also great security. Homes with dogs are burgled my less frequently than homes without. And knowing my daughter has our dog with her when she’s playing outside makes it much less likely that she’ll be abducted (that dog is VERY protective of her).

Why don’t you try understanding people who like different things than you, rather than sneering at them?

BTW, my daughter put together a web site for our dog. Here it is: Katie’s Web Site


Something to be affectionate to without it being an awkward situation.

Heck there are either many reasons, or no definable reason. Some people just like [being with] animals.

I’m not sneering at anyone. And I’m not saying pet ownership should be illegal. The intent of post was truly to understand why people feel the need to buy and house animals.

You’ve told me why you like having dogs, but I still don’t get it. Your dogs are great companions because you bought them and trained them to be so. Why did you originally choose to do that?

If it’s purely for security reasons, I can understand that. I don’t agree with it. Much like I’d disagree with buying a human clone and training him to guard my house.


Again. Why do you feel the need to buy companionship and love from an animal?

Is your ‘real life’ that devoid of companionship and friendship?

Few people ‘trained’ their pets to be companions. They just are.

I can’t quite put my finger on why I, for instance (if I suddenly have a house of my own) would want to buy one or two cats. I just would. I like cats and they seem to enjoy humans. It’s mutual companionship.

Humans are most probably biophiliacs by nature. We just DO like animals, and that is that. We like being around them. We like eating some of them (though this varies by species). We like their companionship. We anthropomorphize them. And, as was mentioned, humans and dogs basically evolved together a little ways: they were integrated into human society fairly early on, so that they came to rely upon human civilization and human civilization came to incorporate dogs.

I don’t think a person who doesn’t understand pets can really understand liking other humans very well either. Human beings are sociable, and that sociability does not stop at species borders. Generally, I find that people who don’t “get” pets (as opposed to those that just don’t happen to like having pets) have serious psychological disorders such as antisocial personality disorder. That is, not liking living with or understanding affection for or empathizing with animals is a very good predictor of serious problems with empathy and the formation of attachments. It’s not without good reason that you hear that most sociopath, serial killers, etc. started out by killing other people’s pets.

(Didn’t see your post when I sent my last one)

This is a very cynical attitude. What’s so wrong with having an animal? It’s a mutual benefit situation.

It’s a social habit to have animals. People aren’t doing it because they are desperate for companionship. They DEFINATELY don’t do it to have power over something. They just say “Shall we get a dog? Yay!”.

Most people consider the supposed “power” elements of having a pet to be the most boring and burdensome aspects of pet ownership: all the cleaning, the medical bills, the cost of food and care, etc. What people enjoy most are just having pets around, being part of the family, hanging out with them, playing with them, etc.

Regarding the ‘power’ elements, etc. I said ‘subconscious’ for a reason.

Oh, yes! I’m a slave to the cat because I have a subconscious desire to have absolute power.

The man has obviously never had a cat…

You sound like a PETA apologist, friend.

Subconcious or not. I disagree with you. I can’t see it as being “a subconcious egomaniacal act of self importance”

You think having pets makes people feel important? I can’t see how it can. I don’t consider any person more ‘important’ for having a pet. I consider them quite normal.

You have issues.

What reason was that? To make a vague claim with no evidence seem less silly? The fact that there are CONSCIOUS reasons to think that the power element isn’t all that appealing for anyone other than the sort of people who DON’T like or understanding having pets pretty well runs directly counter to the idea that there is some unconcious motive for power.

Saying that something is an unconscious motive is a means to insulate almost ANY silly assertion from falsification. Hate bagels? Well, maybe, unconciously, you LOVE bagels! Ha!

But the reality is, when I conciously dislike having to litter train an animal, asserting my “power” over it, it’s probably silly to suggest that I in some way also get off on it unless there is some great evidence for this.

Sam Stone awesome post man, that really summed up everything I could think of.

But! I do beleive fish are merely living decorations, not pets.

BTW: I looked at your daughters website, and I am so jealous of you for owning such a great dog. Seriously! It looks like it brings alot of joy to your life! When i’m living on my own in a few years, I’m definetly getting a Border Collie too.
(Oh and I live near Edmonton too, see you around! lol! And bundle up when you go outside)

And still no valid reason for having a pet.

Except that you need unconditional love. From an animal.

Or security. That could be had elsewhere.

I’ve seen plenty.

Forget it. He’s obviously a PETA wacko who thinks pet ownership is slavery. There’s no debate here because he’s never going to accept a valid reason.


They enhances the “quality” of your life, not your “life."

Pets are an addition to the quality of life. They are more than companions, they are members of the family. We choose to keep them because we can, and we enjoy doing so.
There is no hidden agenda involved. They neither replace, nor compensate for something we are missing. They enhance what we have.
Here are a few web sites that will answer your questions.
I’m sure that these will help you understand what is involved.

“I’ve seen plenty.”

Yes, plenty of ‘I have a pet so I can love myself and feel good.’