Knowledge of the deeper meanings of attachment to companion animals is limited, particularly in terms of older adults. This study employed a modified grounded theory method, a phenomenological lens and a life course perspective to gather and analyze data garnered from individual interviews and panel discussions in order to investigate the multiple dimensions of older adult men’s relationships with their companion animal dogs. Individual audio-recorded in-depth interviews and repeated panel discussions with a sub-group of the participants, convened as a panel over a three-month period, explored behavioral and emotional manifestations of attachment and the emotional bond to their companion animal dogs and the changing nature of that attachment and bond over their life span. Analysis involved open, axial and selective coding of transcripts to reveal underlying patterns within the data. Outcomes included movement toward a theory of companion animal attachment for older adult men as well as insight into the role of dogs in development of older adult men’s identities. This dissertation offers insight into the deeper understanding of the human-animal bond resulting in enhancing quality of life for both older adult male pet owners and their companion animal dogs.
|University of Kentucky
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