Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by teagan from AL. teagan Wonders, “Why are only certain animals our pets?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, teagan!

Do you have a dog at home? If so, you know that special feeling you get when you arrive home after a long day of school to be greeted with a wagging tail and a few excited licks to the face. When you experience the unconditional love of a dog, you know why the dog is called “man's best friend."

Maybe you have a cat at home instead. When you're down in the dumps, your furry and purr-y friend is sure to be there to snuggle up beside you to let you know everything is going to be just fine. Cats make great cuddle buddies any time of the day.

Perhaps you have some other type of pet. Whether it's a fish, a turtle, a bird, a snake, a rabbit, a guinea pig, a horse, a sheep, or a chicken, a pet simply makes life better. But have you ever stopped to WONDER why we keep pets in the first place?

Of course, if you have a pet, you can probably think of several good reasons right off the top of your head. But how did this whole keeping pets business get started in the first place?

No one knows for sure when the first animals were domesticated. Domestication means taming an animal to live alongside a human being as a pet. Historians note that humans have always developed close associations with animals, so the first pets were probably domesticated thousands of years ago.

In fact, the first domesticated pets were probably animals tamed to be living tools. Although we might not think of pets as tools, early humans certainly did. In addition to providing a source of food, animals could provide many other things, including labor, milk, and clothing.

For example, an ox could help an early farmer plow a field. Cows could give milk, and their hides could be used for clothing. Sheep could be sheared for wool to make clothing. If you think about the variety of farm animals that exist, you can easily see how animals can be very useful living tools.

Horses were probably domesticated early on as a source of transportation. If you've ever spent time around a horse, though, you know that they're beautiful, majestic creatures that can quickly capture your heart. When humans work closely with animals, bonds form. These bonds lead to humans viewing animals as much more than just tools.

Although early humans may have first sought to domesticate animals as living tools, they surely recognized the other benefits of animals as pets that we still see today. Pets are comforting companions. They keep us healthy and relieve stress. They play and show us love. They keep us from being lonely.

In the United States, we love our pets! Recent studies suggest that almost 75 million families in the U.S. have at least one pet. That means over 60% of us have pets. The most popular pets are dogs and cats. Studies show that there are more families with dogs than cats, but the total number of pet cats outnumbers dogs. In fact, pets outnumber children by a ratio of four to one in the U.S.

Wonder What's Next?

Feeling patriotic? Warm up your vocal cords and wave the flag. It’s time to sing the praises of your nation tomorrow in Wonderopolis!