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My life is ruled by animals. My career has been dedicated to them and my personal life, at times, has been overwhelmed by them. Sometimes I wonder why. What is it about animals that I (and I suspect many of you) find so endearing and, frankly, essential to a life fully lived? Why do we invite the inconvenience, expense, mess, and the inevitable heartbreak into our lives?

I could attempt to find worlds to explain the reasons, but I’m afraid I simply don’t have the literary skills to do the topic justice. Instead, let’s take a look at what some of the world’s great minds have said on the subject.

Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened.

— Anatole France

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.

— Roger Caras

I have felt cats rubbing their faces against mine and touching my cheek with claws carefully sheathed. These things, to me, are expressions of love.

— James Herriot

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent.

— Milan Kundera

When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes.

— William Shakespeare (Henry V)

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

— Mahatma Gandhi

I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.

— Abraham Lincoln

The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.

— Henry Beston (The Outermost House)

He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.

— Immanuel Kant

Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem.

— A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh)

All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it.

— Samuel Butler

If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.

— James Herriot

The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.

— Samuel Butler

Do you have a favorite quote about the relationship between people and animals? If so, please share!

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Image: Thinkstock

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