Ryan Bridge: Pet adoration has become a crutch for dissolving human interaction

Opinion 01/02/2019
Photo: Getty.

By Ryan Bridge, Magic Drive host

OPINION: As I walked through Cox’s Bay reserve this morning, a slobbery black Lab bounded my way with a family of four running behind, looking exhausted. Why, I wondered to myself while sneaking a pat of ol’ Buster, did the family not just put the thing on a leash?

I got home to find a friend watching comedian John Milanie on the telly. Funny enough, the audience’s biggest reaction came when Milanie declared himself the proud owner of a four-year-old French Bulldog. The crowd clapped, cheered and whistled with glee. Over a dog?

When I arrive to work, my colleague Sean Plunket hands me a photo of an oil painting he had commissioned. It’s an oil painting of his dog, Pax. A blimmin' oil painting of a dog.

Furry modern-day kings and queens are showered with excessive treats (some even at risk of diabetes), roaming leash-free on beaches and some even immortalised in oil on canvas.

Where it was once human babies that excited us, fur-babies now command celebration and public adoration.

But it hasn't always been this way. Dogs were once working animals (and many still are), kept in cages out the back and put to work on the farm. It's thought cats only won favour with humans after they hunted mice in large grain stores following the advent of intensive farming.

Their metamorphosis into one of human-kind's most beloved possessions is as incredible as it is puzzling.

Perhaps it's because humans have grown so tired of one another that pets have slowly come to replace our children, partners, and family. We don't marry each other at the same rate we used to, divorce is no longer a sin, we're having children much later in life (if at all).

Indeed, we live in the age of isolation where apps like UberEats and Facebook make physical interaction tiresome and unnecessary.

Yet there's still something we all crave and pets have it in spades (though the jury's out on cats). And that is unconditional love and companionship.

As spouses come and go and social interaction fades into emoji-heavy iMessages, it seems pets are becoming more than man’s best friend. For some, they’re family.

Ryan Bridge is host of Magic Drive, weekdays from 3-6pm.