Does this article make sense?
Do you think nonhuman animals can fill that space where human interaction is lacking?
Can belief in god alone fill that space?
The article doesn't surprise me that much (though the extent to which relationships matter more than most other factors is surprising). Intuitively it all makes sense.
I used to volunteer in an organization that deals with dog training administration. They were:
The last two are the key. Numerous (countless) studies show that company, respectful relationship with and physical contact with dogs reduces stress, feelings of loneliness and other symptoms of depression and remarkably improve dog owners lives and sense of happiness. They are especially powerful miracle pills for those who have suffered post traumatic stress disorder. See a 7 foot 250 pound ex soldier board a flight and the flight attendant suggests the dog be checked under the plane and the soldier says he needs the dog for take-off and landing...and it gives you an idea how important they are. So goes with the dogs for the elderly, they can offer some very basic assistance (even carrying small things) and company that many of them desperately need. It's a bit of a cliché, usually with older men, who have almost never shown physical intimacy with their family or friends yet cuddle the shit out of their dog. In my own experience my childhood dog was my best friend and an essential source of contentment and happiness. As a boy playing with, cuddling with, taking a nap together, having him around when you get sad, protecting it from the terror they feel when there is a thunderstorm, etc prepares you for the intimacy required for when you start dating and forming adult relationships. When he passed away it was the most devastating and traumatic event in my life...and it still haunts me...but the happiness of that relationship sticks with you.
It would be interesting to know if dogs alone are sufficient for human happiness. I know this. Their life spans are way too short. It plain sucks.
The most painful death i have mourned was that of a dog. So visceral. Devastation.