WBAA: Between Pets and People

>>This is WBAA,
I’m Mike Loizzo. Allen Beck is one of the
authors of Between Pets and People the importance
of animal companionship. Thanks so much for
coming in today Allen.>>It’s my pleasure.>>Now this is a
very interesting book and at sometimes I thought it
was almost information overload because there’s so many
interesting facts and studies and stories about
people and their pets. How did this come about? And this was originally
printed back in 1983.>>Right. I really, in the late
70’s and 80’s there was, I mean, there’s always been an
interest in animals, it’s always the assumption that
animals were good for people and ever since we’ve been
domesticated ourselves we’ve, living in villages
we’ve had animals. Uh, but then in 1980 the first
study done at the University of Pennsylvania showed that
Erin Catcher and Eric Freedman that showed that people that had
animals had a better one year survival after a heart
attack then people that have had heart attacks
who were non owners and so on. We organized a group
called the Delta Society that was beginning
to look at this. I was actually sort of
the odd person up until that point I was looking at the
problems that animals caused. I was with the New
York health department, I was studying animal bites,
diseases from animals, but then the University of
Pennsylvania got funding from, to open the first, what is
now, was the first center, it hasn’t been in every school,
to really look at both people and animals together as
opposed to just human health and animal health and is more
typical of the veterinary school and that’s when I moved to
Pennsylvania, I met Erin Catcher who was just very
much interested in the social support systems
and very much interested in animals and we
started looking at what people were
doing with animals and the idea is I think one of the reasons people
didn’t really take the fact that there was a
relationship seriously is that no one saw the obvious
connection, how it would work and I think it’s appropriate
to be a little concerned if you don’t understand
why something should work and because Erin, being a great
psychiatrist, and I’m just sort of an observer, I was
actually studying stray dogs, observer we looked at how
people talk to animals, to their animals in
a veterinary school, and as soon as they
started talking to their animals they
looked more relaxed. They would talk more slowly,
sometimes with a higher pitch, sounds somewhat reminiscent
of how we talk to children and they just looked more
comfortable and Erin said, are they really more
comfortable? I mean, they self reported
to being more comfortable so we put blood pressure
equipment on them and sure enough, there’s
a true relaxation response and then it sort of
occurred that one of the, there are probably
several mechanisms in which animals are
important to people but one is what you might
call social support. We social animals, we people, find great comfort
in each other. I mean that is the most
important part of our life, is usually other people in it. we seek out behaviors, we
talk to each other, we, all cultures touch and
hug to show bonding, we don’t kill each
other, we try to seek out to do things together and so we really started
the book looking at, what are those behaviors that we
know people do with each other, that are also done consciously
or unconsciously with animals.

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