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Poll: Pets better listeners than husbands

A third of pet-owning married women said their pets are better listeners than their husbands, according to an Associated Press-Petside.com poll released Wednesday. Eighteen percent of pet-owning married men said their pets are better listeners than their wives.

Christina Holmdahl, 40, talks all the time to her cat, two dogs or three horses — about her husband, naturally.

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"Whoever happens to be with me when I'm rambling," said Holmdahl, who's stationed with her husband at Fort Stewart in Georgia. "A lot of times, I'm just venting about work or complaining about the husband."

It would be a toss-up whether Bill Rothschild would take a problem to his wife of 19 years or the animal he considers a pet — a palm-sized crayfish named Cray Aiken. His daughter brought it home four years ago at the end of a second grade science project.

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Rothschild, 44, of Granite Springs, N.Y., considers Cray a better listener than his wife, "absolutely. She doesn't listen worth anything." He doesn't get much feedback from the crustacean, but it's been a different story over the years with family dogs and cats.

"You definitely feel much more comfortable sharing your problems with them," he said. "A little lick from a big dog can go a long way."

Overall, about one in 10 pet owners said they would talk their troubles over with their pets.

The AP-Petside.com poll also found that most people believe their pets are stable and seldom struggle with depression. Just 5 percent of all pet owners said they had taken an animal to a veterinarian or pet psychologist because it seemed down in the dumps. Even fewer said they'd ever given antidepressants to a pet.

But they weren't opposed to the idea: 18 percent of those polled said they were at least somewhat likely to take a pet to a vet or pet psychologist if it was dejected.

When pets become the therapists, the dogs have it. Twenty-five percent of dog owners said their canines listened better than a spouse, while only 14 percent of cat owners chose the feline.

The AP-Petside.com Poll was conducted April 7-12, 2010, and involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,112 pet owners nationwide. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Bill Rothschild looks at his crayfish, Cray Aiken, on Tuesday, at his home in Granite Springs, N.Y. Bill likes to share his problems with his animals, such as Cray, because they are good listeners. (AP Photo/Mike Rice)

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