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Doggie-Dependence Debate
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This cultural and legal attitude suggests that people who are dependent on their animals for anything other than amusement or entertainment are abnormal or unhealthy. People who love animals as friends and family, and more especially, who depend on them for comfort and emotional support, are seen as quirky at best, and at worst, mentally ill. Perhaps it is time that our culture accepts that we depend on animals in all aspects of our lives, including companionship and emotional support.

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Kelly Oliver, PhD is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn. She is the author of more than 100 articles and 11 books, including Animal Lessons: How They Teach Us to Be Human.

Photograph: Floyd Anderson

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