Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love

February 14, 2012 | By | Comments (1)
clark's grebe courtship dance via the BBC

Clark’s Grebe Courtship Dance. From the BBC Series, Life, via Care2.com.

There is love at first sight — or smell or sound as it were. And then “ooh-ooh-ooh, what a little moonlight can do“…”Ooh-ooh-ooh, what a little moonlight can do to you…” as the tune goes.

Turns out that human beings aren’t the only ones who try to put their best foot forward when looking for a mate. In the animal kingdom, the burden of impressing one’s future intended often falls on the shoulders of the male. Whether a male bowerbird builds and decorates a lavish bower fit for his future queen or a robin charms the object of his fancy with a savory meal, they are demonstrating their credentials as good providers.

clark's grebe courtship dance

Clark’s Grebe Courtship Dance. From the BBC Series, Life.

After selection of a mate, talk turns to making and sustaining a commitment. In a remarkable video from BBC Nature, we see a female Clark’s Grebe invite her partner to join her in a courtship ritual dance, as proof of his intentions. It is truly breathtaking and worth watching through to the end.

And then there are animal BFFs. TIME magazine recently covered “the surprising science of animal friendships,” describing how a pair of older male chimpanzees in Uganda had each other’s backs in a fight and shared prey rather than competing for it. This friendship remained intact until one of them died, at which point the other was observed to go into mourning for several weeks.

On the domesticated animal front, our relationships with animals remind us of the profound importance of love and friendship.

  • There is my friend’s curmudgeonly neighbor whose personality was transformed after he adopted a dog. From nasty to friendly, just like that!
  • My relative’s cat who changed his position from sleeping by her feet to curling up in the crook of her neck once she got sick
  • The “wonder dog” who was able to reach a troubled boy as no one could

Our pets teach us about unconditional love and simple pleasures. The restorative powers of a purring cat or the wet kisses of a dog have been known to hold their own with modern medicine. And there are no side effects except for a bit of slobber!

Unfortunately, the flip side of how much love and affection pets bring into our lives is the heartache that results when they leave us. So permit me a farewell kiss to Simon the bulldog, who has graced this blog in the past all decked-out in his Halloween finest. Simon passed away recently at the age of 11 years old. I’m pretty sure that Simon wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to dress up for Valentine’s Day. Also allow me a shout-out to Lucy, who wouldn’t have been caught in a costume no matter the holiday!

Here are some last-minute Valentine’s Day links to help you celebrate the holiday:

How have your pets transformed your lives or the lives of others with their gift of love?