Last Sunday, I was invited to go to a Dog Show in Toronto. Dog lovers brought their dogs out in droves to mix and mingle with each other and to have good fun. It was sunny, warm, and bright – a good Woofstock Day. I hadn’t realized that the dog industry was so big. Several streets in the St. Lawrence Market area were closed off for the Show and you could buy anything and everything there to pamper and care for your pet.
This collage was inspired by my visit to this show. All the beautiful dogs in this collage were photographed there. Since my pet, Cali, is a cat, I have included her in this collage.
What struck me about this kind of event happened before I even got to the Show. While I was travelling by subway to get there, several people came on with their dogs. I had never gone to the Show before and assumed they were going there. They were holding their dogs close if they were little ones and petting and playing with them if they were bigger ones. In that moment, I realized that what Michaelangelo said was true: “To touch can be to give life.”
The people travelling with their dogs were both males and females. They were travelling solo. The dog was their sole companion. They were probably going to meet friends or relatives there as I was going to do.
These dogs were fulfilling the needs of these people by giving them the opportunity to touch and connect with another in a non-threatening way. The pets too were receiving love and care through this relationship and they felt special. The bonds that existed here were very deep.
As humans, we have been losing the ability to touch in “good” ways. We have to be so careful even with people we know. We read and see so much on television of all the bad things that are happening world-wide. I just wonder whether this drives us to choose animals as friends. We are social creatures and we haven’t lost the need for companionship and friendship and touch. “There are studies showing that touch signals safety and trust, it soothes. Basic warm touch calms cardiovascular stress. It activates the body’s vagus nerve, which is intimately involved with our compassionate response, and a simple touch can trigger release of oxytocin, aka “the love hormone.”
My own cat, Cali, is a source of great joy to me. I like brushing her hair, feeding her grass, and touching her. She’s very finnicky and can be very bad at times but there’s none of the “baggage” that comes with a human relationship. There’s the work of giving her food and water and cleaning her litter box. She needs to be cared for by someone if I’m going to be away. This is the same for all pet owners - so why do we invest this time, money, and energy? It’s good for our health but is this why we do it?
Like Michaelangelo, I believe “to touch can be to give life.” Our pets give us a little more of what is “good” in life by touching them and in turn we are touched. They touch us physically and emotionally. They can extend our physical lives and make us happier in the long run and, hopefully, we are doing the same for them. Look at all the little eyes in this collage – they’re all asking to be touched. Petlicious!