According to the old cliché, “A dog is a man’s best friend.” But does this notion hold water for ESA dogs? Is it merely sentimentalism, or is there hard truth to it?
Man has a rather mixed up relationship with his natural environment and with the organisms with which he shares it. We have highly symbiotic relationships with many creatures. For example, billions of friendly bacteria live happily in our gut, helping us while we help them. Foxes scavenge contentedly in our towns and cities, feeding on the food waste we throw out. Millions of ESA cats live happy and healthy lives in and around the houses of their human owners.
But man can be a brutal and destructive enemy, too. Heaven help the species that ends up on the wrong side of homo sapiens’ wrath. Many animals have been driven to extinction due to totally arbitrary reasons such as human’s who like to wear their horns or hides. West Africa Black Rhinoceros, Passenger Pigeons, Caribbean Monk Seals, and even our first cousins the Neanderthals have all suffered this fate, and much more are teetering on the brink. So, man has a profound effect on the lives of the creatures that share his environment — sometimes good, but sometimes bad.
ESA Dogs Throughout History
It is safe to say that ESA dogs will not be going extinct anytime soon, for they certainly occupy a special place in man’s hearts. More than any other species, they seem to fill the enviable niche of being our best friend. Many people hold emotional support dogs in very high esteem. At different times and places in history, humans have even worshiped them, buried themselves alongside them, shared their precious food with them, worked with them and fought in wars alongside them.
Dogs have played a super important role in societies from ancient to modern. They worked alongside humans in Ancient Greek temples as healers. For thousands of years, they helped people do the jobs they needed to do to survive, such as herding, hunting and fishing. In modern societies, dogs play vital roles working alongside humans in all sorts of ways. Professional rescue dogs save people from remote mountains, burning building and earthquake sites. Sheepdogs and herding dogs help to manage flocks. Guard dogs protect people. Highly skilled dogs work in law enforcement, sniffing out contraband, controlling angry mobs, tackling dangerous criminals and disposing of bombs.
It is generally considered uncouth to eat your best friend, and as you would expect, in most of the world, the idea of eating dog meat is highly taboo. Even in countries where it has been done in the past, such as China, Korea and Indonesia, it is now frowned upon and barely done at all.
Dogs and Their ESA Owners
When a film or TV program stars a dog, it often demands huge box-office appeal. The movie Beethoven would not have worked if the main character was an aloof, forgetful goldfish. That big, cuddly St. Bernard was essential to getting people emotionally involved. Lassie is another example of a hugely popular canine movie star. And who can forget little Eddie, so adored by Frasier’s ex-cop dad, Martin, not to mention Frasier fans the world over? Scooby Doo and Snoopy lit up the pages of comic books and starred in hugely popular syndicated cartoons that entertained multiple generations. People love to watch their best friends act!
For many people, their emotional support dog is their closest companion, the most loyal and loving friend they have in an often cold and difficult world. An ESA dog is their closest confidante, the being to which they divulge their deepest secrets.
For people with mental health problems, their emotional support animal of choice is a dog due to the warm and open temperament that most ESA dogs display. Guide dogs for the blind play an invaluable role in the day-to-day lives of their owners, making their experiences infinitely richer. In many cases, ESA dogs make the impossible possible.
So, for these reasons, it is accurate to say that ESA dogs are indeed man’s best friend, and the admiration certainly appears to go both ways. The excitement a dog feels when its owner returns home from work, the sheer thrill at the rattle of the leash that signals a walk, and the deep contentment an emotional support dog displays as it lies by your feet for hours on end as you relax and watch TV or read a book are all undoubtedly real. The touching loyalty of a dog to its homeless human owner who can barely provide for it or the dedication with which a dog will stand guard over its elderly owner’s deceased body, often for days and days until help arrives, show the real love a dog feels for its human mate.
The old saying holds water: Dogs are man’s best friend, and it’s fair to say that man is also theirs. It is a beautiful relationship that goes both ways.