Pet-lovers know the bond between human and animals is special. But the human-animal bond goes beyond frolicking with Fido. Paleoanthropologist Pat Shipman, author of The Animal Connection, theorizes that the evolution of the human species has benefited on many levels thanks to our natural desire to connect and bond with animals. It’s not just our history as hunters Shipman referrs to, but also our yearning to nurture animals of other species.

Pet adoption isn’t the only way for modern humans to connect with the animal world. We can enjoy the benefits of the human-animal bond in many ways.

  1. Volunteer at an animal shelter or rescue organization. As a volunteer you can play with animals, take them for walks and enjoy inter-species interaction without the commitment of living with a pet. Pets who are waiting for permanent families need more care than most shelters can provide without volunteers.

  2. Go outside. Animals are everywhere: in a city park, in the wilderness and in your own backyard. Sit quietly outside with the intention to observe the animal world. You’ll be amazed at the number of birds, squirrels, bugs and who knows what else you’ll see or hear. Send your loving energy out to the creatures around you and be receptive to the energy they send back.

  3. Get involved with an animal advocacy group. If you’re moved to improve the lives of animals, research groups such as the World Wildlife Fund, PETA or the SPCA and find out what you can do to help.

  4. Know your steak. Loving animals doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up eating animal products, but educating yourself about where your food was raised and how it was treated will not only make you a smarter consumer, it may increase your appreciation for animals everywhere.

Book Recommendation: Random Acts of Kindness by Animals – A daily inspiration book