Nature "Why We Love Cats and Dogs" on WXXI-TV

Nature "Why We Love Cats and Dogs" on WXXI-TV

Sun, 05/23/2010 - 8:00pm

An in-depth investigation into the great divide between dog lovers and cat lovers.

NATURE explores our infatuation with our four-legged friends. Americans own 73 million dogs and 90 million cats, considering them best friends, soul mates, family members and even surrogate children. Why are we so attached? To find out, NATURE gets personal with pet owners and animal behavior experts. NATURE “Why We Love Cats and Dogs” encores Sunday, May 23 at 8 p.m.  on WXXI-TV (DT 21.1/cable 1011 and 11).

“This is a different kind of NATURE film,” says Fred Kaufman, executive producer of NATURE. “We combine a more verité style of filmmaking with in-studio pet owner interviews, and the result is a gamut of stories that are insightful, heartwarming and funny.”

Featured experts share their research and perspectives on why we love our cats and dogs:

• Sarah Wilson, dog behaviorist, psychologist and author, reveals primal reasons why men and women are drawn to dogs and the nine major relationship styles people have with their pets, including soul mate, observer, buddy, angel and master.

• Marc Bekoff, renowned evolutionary biologist and professor emeritus at the University of Colorado, explains our animal attraction through the concept of “mirror neurons.” His theory suggests that shared emotions and empathy biologically connect humans to their dogs and cats.

• Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, reveals that cats, often reputed to be independent animals, can be as responsive and trainable as dogs. He explains that owners who communicate with their cats through training and agility exercises can eventually erase cats’ behavior problems.

• Emily Weiss, an animal behaviorist, uses mutual personality traits to connect people with the “right” dogs and cats. She developed the “Meet Your Match” system for the ASPCA to assess dogs’ and cats’ personalities so that they can be matched to the right owners, based upon lifestyle and expectations.

Throughout the film, there are interviews with cat and dog owners who discuss their bonds and adventures with their pets. Among the many personal stories is the remarkable journey of Jerry, a three-legged canine amputee with cancer; his owners sold their home and business to enjoy Jerry’s last months by traveling with him cross-country. This and other tales show how strong the human-animal bond can be.