There is no quicker way to make friends than with a dog by your side. Take a dog out walking with you, and the social barriers between you and that random stranger on the street – the one you would have otherwise avoided eye contact with – dissolve in an instant. The presence of a dog can assuage almost any awkward situation.
In her article “Must Love Dogs”, Kirsten Bell posits that one of the reasons people find dogs so comforting is the elevated not quite animal, not quite human status they possess. Bell gives several examples of myths in which dogs seem to occupy more of the human world than the animal world. In a Nigerian myth, for example, dogs were given to the human realm in exchange from a promise from the humans that they would stop hunting in the animal realm.
Bell also points out that in many cultures including our own, the consumption of dogs as food is incredibly taboo. However, the consumption of other animals such as cows, pigs, and even birds – animals that can all be kept as pets – is common. It is clear from this that the role dogs play in human society is much more complex and interwoven with our own role as humans than perhaps we realize.