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Tillman Exemplifies Human Animal Bond

Michelle Maskaly//May 14, 2014//

Tillman Exemplifies Human Animal Bond

Michelle Maskaly //May 14, 2014//

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Last week I attended BlogPaws, a social media conference for the pet industry. The event, being held for the sixth time in 5 years, brings together manufacturers and pet-specific bloggers to not only learn about social media, but also interact, meet and learn from each other.

It also featured key-note addresses to help educate attendees on trends and issues facing the  pet industry. One such address was from veterinarian Kate Hodgson. Sponsored by the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation,  Hodgson’s speech, Pets in the Family: Impact on Human Health – Zooeyia, focused on the importance pets play in the lives of humans.

They can make them healthier, provide companionship and overall give people a better quality of life. Zooeyia, as she explained, is the term used to describes the health benefits that pets provide to their human companions. This companionship, makes them part of a family, which she described as,  a group of intimates with both a history and a future.

Pets can, and have to, be included into the family cycle framework. Both she and Steven Feldman, executive director of HABRI, made this point very clear when it comes to a person’s health.

“Why aren’t cardiologists prescribing dogs,” Feldman questioned while introducing Hodgson.

Their point, backed up by scientific evidence presented during the speech,  showed that pets make people healthier, both physically and mentally.

While everyone got a laugh out of the statistics, including one where someone was less likely to smoke around their pet than other humans, they would all experience first-hand an example of the human animal bond just a few short hours.

Owned by Ron Davis, Tillman, a 60-pound skateboarding English bulldog, is part of the Natural Balance Pet Foods Canine Sports Team.  He also had a TV show, “Who Let the Dogs Out” on the Hallmark Channel.

The crowd at BlogPaws lined the street next to the hotel, cameras in hand, to watch Tillman do a skateboarding demonstration with his trainers. And, rightly so, it’s not every day a dog is skateboarding down a street.

As the trainers, including Davis, interacted with Tillman, the bond between them was evident. They were completely connected by just simple commands and movements. Tillman was attentive and didn’t pay any attention to the hundreds of people snapping photos of him. His only focus was his owner and trainers, and of course the skateboard.

Beyond that, just the idea of skateboard with a dog, makes him more of a companion and member of the family. It humanizes the animal, gets their owner to be more active with them and builds, a close relationship between the dog and his owner.

That relationship is a prime example of Hodgson’s definition, and benefit, of Zooeyia.