I love most animals (roaches and other bugs aside lol) but only 'LOVE' and feel that special connection with my own. For example I think of myself as a horse person first and a dog person second, but I much prefer my cats, who I love and understand and am connected to on a level where I know what the ywant when they meow, over a random dog, however sweet and well-behaved.
I definitely prefer hanging out with animals over hanging out with people though. Apart from my SO I have no close 'friends' that live near, just a group of people from all over the world I talk to regularly, some of them for 8+years now, who feel like a family to me. But I wont be meeting for dinnerparties or going for tea just because. If I had to choose between never interacting with an animal ever again or never interacting with a human I'm pretty sure I wouldnt miss out on much by choosing to hang with the animals ;)
I dont have anyone in my family who doesnt like animals, so I'm not sure if its nature or nurture, both my sister and I were horse-crazy as little girls. My mom had been horse-crazy until she had a fall when she was 12. So my sister and I didnt grow up in a horse centered family, but we both loved horses from a young age. I'm the only one who stuck with the horsebug though, while my sister still likes them and enjoys going on the occasional trail ride she isnt horse crazy anymore.
So maybe you can have a predisposition for horse/animal love, to a different degree, but then need it nurtured in some way? I'm pretty sure my sister wouldnt have been into horses when she was younger if she hadnt seen how much I was into horses and imitated that.
She was the one with the love for dogs, begging for a family puppy, but once we got our dog I was the one spending time with him, training him, and building a connection with him. My mom loves him, but when he's naughty or doesnt listen in public she gets really angry and it will ruin her day, she'll rant for an hour about 'that stupid dog why does he do that to me'. I'm like, he's a dog, he doesnt know its wrong, its not his fault if you are not consistent in his training to teach him what he can and cannot do. And then theyre all surprised when he listens to me...
I think there's 3 categories of animal lovers:
- Those who have the understanding of how an animal sees the world and can 'connect' to them.
- Those who like animals because theyre cute and fluffy, but cant 'get in the animal's head' to try and understand them, these are the people that get angry at a dog for not coming when called, or who get angry at us for correcting a horse that tries to nip by smacking it on the neck
- and those who think all animals should be running free without human interference (not sure these are animal 'lovers' but they call themselves that)