The Veterinary Nurse’s Role in the Human-Animal Bond
The human-animal bond is more complex than you think, and learning everything you can about it will benefit your beloved patients, your client relationships, and your practice's function.
As veterinary nurses, we intimately know and understand the vital role of the human-animal bond. I believe that is why many of us followed our passion to this profession. We wanted to help those beings who give us so much and give it unconditionally. We know the human-animal bond to be a mutually beneficial and vibrant relationship between people and animals. This relationship is influenced by behaviors essential to the health and wellbeing of both species. We have seen the research supporting the emotional, psychological, and physical interactions among people, animals, and the environment.
This issue of Today’s Veterinary Nurse looks at the science and history of the human-animal bond. All members of the veterinary team acknowledge the human-animal bond and its impact on ourselves, our clients, and our communities. The human-animal bond is the foundation of our role as veterinary nurses—we took an oath “to aid animals and society by providing excellent care and services for animals, by alleviating animal suffering, and promoting public health.” Our role supports both human and animal needs and works to strengthen the bond between owners and their pets.
For example, we have encountered the unspoken connection between senior citizens and their pets—oftentimes lending companionship or a link to a beloved human that has passed. We have seen the unrelenting trust between a person with a disability and the service animal responsible for helping that individual to navigate their disability to live their best life. Anthony Douglas Williams writes: “when I look into the eyes of an animal, I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul.” We have experienced the trust in a beloved pet’s eyes as their body cannot continue and the owner has made the decision to provide the gift of release from suffering.
This letter from the editor is being written at a difficult but poignant time for me. My wife and I had to make that decision to have our soul dog released from her suffering. The depth of our grief and the size of the hole in our hearts are a reflection on the magnitude of the bond we had with “Fribble, the best dog ever.” She was always there for us—snorting, wiggling, loving, and always happy. I am a much better person for having been accepted by such a loving soul. She proved yet again the power of the bond between a human and an animal is unwavering and forever.