Dogs, cats, birds, snakes, lizards, fish, spiders, lions, tigers and even pigs. You name a species and somebody, somewhere, has had them as a pet.
As varied as our pets are, so are our reasons for keeping them. The number one rationale for having pets is companionship, but the truth is that our relationship with them actually starts in our brains.
Why we have pets
Although there’s a big difference between owning a goldfish and owning a Golden Retriever, it turns out people get very similar benefits. Studies such as those conducted at the Beacham Center for Geriatric Medicine at Johns Hopkins in the United States have shown that, whatever their species, animals can help reduce stress, increase empathy, build attachment, teach children responsibility, curb loneliness and of course expand our social lives as we build adventures and playtime for our critters and other human owners. (Cuteness also has a big part to play, which is why CAA North & East Ontario has a 2023 Pet Calendar. More on that below.)
Love for our pets starts in our subconscious
Why? We respond to animals emotionally because of neurons in the amygdala, a brain structure that governs our emotions. In one study done at Hiroshima University in Japan, scientists found that people had a stronger emotional response images of cute baby animals over pictures of friendly adult animals, then performed better in dexterity challenges as a result. Another brain scan study by US veterinarians discovered that mothers responded to images of their own children and their own pets in a very similar way, regardless of the species.
Pets can also help kids who have trouble forming social attachments. During a German study, children were given a math test and had either a dog, a friendly human or a toy dog sit with them as they took it. The kids with a real dog had the lowest levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, while the kids accompanied by a friendly adult had the highest.
CAA’s 2023 Pet Calendar
For CAA Member and dog owner, John Tracz, owning his Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy Nico has meant more than having an extra responsibility around the house. Originally intended to be his kids’ dog, Nico now spends more time with John and, according to him, “Nico has become my dog, more than anyone’s. We have a connection, and the deeper it gets as he grows up, the more important he is becoming in our lives.”
John was one of more than 2600 people who submitted their pet photos to a CAA North & East Ontario contest to find a pet ambassador for 2023. In the end, we were overwhelmed by submissions, votes…and the incredible cuteness of our Members’ pets. There were all shapes, sizes, ages and breeds of cats, dogs, horses and even a pet rock submitted to the contest over a few weeks.
In fact, the photo quality and time people took to showcase their beloved fur babies impressed the club so much, we decided to change the traditional travel theme of the CAA Member Calendar to one entirely made up of pet submissions. CAA Members can pick up a free copy in any CAA Store or the Bayshore Mall Kiosk.
The contest’s success amazed Varun Chhibber, CAA North & East Ontario’s Insurance Marketing Manager, but he wasn’t surprised by the passion pet owners showed for their furry friends.
“Honestly, we were expecting a few hundred submissions to the contest, which we launched to promote our Pets Plus Us pet insurance. But week after week, the submissions just came pouring in. Then came the votes – 8170 cast by 3656 people. I own two cats – who I would have loved to submit to the contest – so I get the love people have for their animals,” he says.
CAA Members can get a free copy of the CAA 2023 Pet Calendar until November 20, 2022 at any CAA Store in our area, or at the Bayshore Mall Kiosk. Limited supplies, one per Member. Non-Members can get a free calendar with a $30-a-year CAA Everyday Membership.
Want to learn more about pet insurance with CAA? Click here.
© 2022 All rights reserved. Pets Plus Us Pet Insurance policies are underwritten by Northbridge General Insurance Corporation, distributed by PTZ Insurance Services Ltd. & Société d’Assurances Collectives (Sodaco) Inc. in Quebec. Pets Plus Us Pet Insurance is available in all provinces and territories. Pets Plus Us®, Pets Plus Us & Design and related words and logos are trademarks and the property of PTZ Insurance Services Ltd.