Fact one: Everyone secretly has a favorite family member. Fact two: People are increasingly likely to say they consider their pets to be family members. And fact three: It is likely that everyone’s favorite family member is secretly the dog. For an odd little study published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, researchers in the U.K. surveyed 77 12-year-olds about their relationships with their pets and their relationships with their siblings. Pets won.
In a particularly adorable finding, the kids’ answers indicated that they were just as likely to share their private thoughts and feelings with their pets as they were with their brothers or sisters. “Even though pets may not fully understand or respond verbally, the level of disclosure to pets was no less than to siblings,” Matt Cassells, a University of Cambridge child psychiatrist, said in a statement. “The fact that pets cannot understand or talk back may even be a benefit as it means they are completely non-judgmental.” Your pet doesn’t understand you. But they also totally understand you.