You’ve read countless essays about why the internet loves animals. But chances are you haven’t read one as smart, surprising, and memorable as this one. A fascinating exploration of what lurks within the emotional bonds we foist on our pets.

The invention of photography helped establish the pet as a kind of ready-made anthropomorphism. But pets are still animals. A large part of the appeal of adopting a pet is the thrill of interspecies contact, the everyday encounters with what Berger calls the “abyss of non-comprehension”: the joy of making contact across this abyss and approaching a nonverbal intimacy that feels ancient and transformative. A pet is a little walking tornado of mysteries. What does she dream about? What is she trying to tell me? What does the world look like through her eyes? Who am I to her? These are not trivial questions.