NPR had a nice story on therapy animals, pointing out how bonding with an animal feels safer and can improve our ability to bond with people.
If you read my blog regularly or have heard me speak, you know that I think animals are one of the best ways "in" to connection. I first experienced love when I got a puppy.
It can be scary to try to connect with a human being -- and traumatic if the relationship fails. Animals are non-judgmental and easy to give to and receive from.