Indeed, they are people too!
Thank you for the great comments about animals offering their service to us. I'm currently reading a book (yes, a Christmas present) by Rupert Sheldrake called "Dogs that know when their owners are coming home - and other unexplained powers of animals". So far I've read 65 pages and thus far I've learnt nothing that I didn't already know. Anyone who has a close proximity with their pet or pets will know exactly the same, that yes, they do know when you're coming home. No need to measure or provide scientific evidence. Well, there's a bit more than 200 pages to go and I'm certain there's some interesting facts and test cases about 'animals that comfort and heal' and 'animals sensing earthquakes' (to mention a few chapter headings).
Your responses made me think about my own experience with cats - and they have a remarkable sense of when you're in pain and need pain relief. Not only will they seek out the exact spot of your pain, but they will often 'milk' vigorously and purr intensely at the same time. On top of it they seem in a complete state of bliss whilst they are in this 'state of service' - almost as if they feel more fulfilled for being able to help. It's quite beautiful, just as it is with any animal relieving your stresses, sadness or pain.
I came across this writing about a cats healing purr... you might know about it, but it is very interesting. And here's just a few extracts:
"We've always intuitively felt that a cat somehow knows when we're not feeling well and even where it hurts. Got a headache and a cat just seems to wrap around your head. A stomachache and a cat can't seem to get off your abdomen. And purrs and purrs and purrs!
It was always believed that a cat's purr was relaxing or stress reducing and that that led to any number of healthful benefits. While that may be so, science has shown that the cat's purr is much more than just relaxing. Remember that it's not just the sound of purring that's important but more the tremor or vibration it produces.
Interestingly, science has known for many years that vibrations at specific levels or frequencies cause healing changes in the body. They can, for example, induce bone growth and regeneration. Bone fractures heal faster and weakened bones begin to strengthen and rebuild.
Also, in the higher frequency ranges, the production of the body's own natural anti-inflammatory compounds increases thereby reducing joint pain and swelling. There is further evidence of muscle, tendon and ligament repair within these frequency ranges as well."
Photo from www.blog.new-cat.com