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UVING TOGETHER: PEOPLE, ANIMALS, ENVIRONMENT—A PERSONAL HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE LEO K. BUSTAD* I. Introduction A lonely dilemma descends on a people when they are separated from the elemental processes of nature, for we are all integral parts of one interdependent, interrelated, and remarkable community. Early in the history of people, they identified intimately with inanimate and animate elements of their surroundings. Drawings and paintings from earliest times depict people with animals. There is evidence to indicate that people adopted animals not only for utilitarian purposes but also as companions and as objects of nurture [1-3]. Many of earth's early human inhabitants formed very strong alliances with animals and plants. They regarded plants and animals as parts of their whole body; therefore , if a plant or animal was eliminated, part of themselves was destroyed . It appears important for people to maintain contact with and relate to their environment throughout their lifetimes to remain healthy. We propose that a strong people-animal-plant interaction is critical to a healthy community because of our inherent need to nurture. To our detriment, the opportunities for nurturing have been greatly diminished with industrialization; hence the growing interest in animals and our environment. The close relationships that exist between many living and nonliving things in the environment vary in strength, but forces that connect people and animals are especially strong and enduring. People and animals often develop a bond, which is a very strong force, such as in a motherThe author gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Linda M. Hines, Sue Balestreri , and Signe Bustad and her hearing dog, Bridget. ?Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164.© 1988 by The University of Chicago. AU rights reserved. 0031-5982/88/3 102-0569$01.00 Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 31,2 · Winter 1988 \ 171 child bond. When either member of a bond will give its life for another, it is a very strong bond indeed. The roots of the human/animal bond reach back thousands of years, although urbanization and other forces have caused modification and even fracturing of the relationship in some cultures. Over the lives of most people in many cultures, the strands linking them to animals have been the needs for sustenance, health, security, wealth, status, religious objects, and pleasure, including companionship. II. Changing Attitudes I have noted a remarkable change in sensitivity toward the people/ animal relationship as well as the relationship to the environment during my lifetime of 67 years; it has been most striking in the last decade. I have been aware of animals throughout most ofmy lifetime. I was raised on a farm by immigrant parents and therefore was closely associated with animals, fields, and forests. (In prison camp, however, the only connection with animals was that of police dogs used as sentry and patrol dogs to control us, and the fleas, lice, and bedbugs that sought refuge in my clothing—which sometimes was not removed for weeks on end. These were not good bondings.) In my early experience on the farm, the need for kindness to animals was impressed on me since gentling was regarded as a requirement for animals' productivity. Nonproducing animals , however, were not accorded this concern. Initially, I didn't give much thought to the real significance of animals other than accepting them as important to our livelihood. A realization of their value to people generally, as well as to mentally and physically handicapped persons and as companions to elderly people, did not come until later in my life. With the arrival ofchildren, my wife and I obtained animals that we thought were important to their growth and development . We introduced them to a variety of animals, including those on my parents' farm. An interesting incident occurred when our eldest child was 6 years old. He became ill and was confined to his bed. On the third day of his illness I brought home a cute blue-gray kitten in a paper sack. Our son didn't even raise his head from the pillow when I entered his room to put the cat on his pillow, but it wasn't long before there was activity on his bed. To make...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 171-184
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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