Is your dog your best friend?

And if so,

The field of psychotherapy has traditionally viewed those whose closest relationships are with animals as somehow lacking, their affections pathologically misplaced, their devotion a symptom of their inability to forge healthy connections with the humans around them.

But in recent years, researchers have begun to take far mohttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifre seriously the bonds between humans and animals — perhaps unsurprising in a society where more than 68 million households include one pet — and to evaluate those relationships in a more positive light.

Their findings support the notion that feeling closer to a pet than to anyone else is more common than one might think.

“There are whole segments of the population that prefer being in the company of dogs than people, and I’m not sure that’s such a negative thing,” said Joel Gavriele-Gold, a psychoanalyst in private practice in Manhattan and the author of “When Pets Come Between Partners.”