I have always been a animal person, as long as I can remember I have loved all sorts of critters, I have had dogs, cats ,hamsters, mice, rats, raccoons, and birds as pets. My hands down #1 favorite always has been dogs. That's my current dog in the profile pic, the white and golden one, Myah. The black one is her best friend, Maggie. Myah was a rescue as many of my dogs have been, but little did I know they were all rescuing me a bit as well.
We have all heard of helper dogs, seeing eye dogs, even trained monkeys for the disabled, I am not talking about those wonderful animals in this post, just simply your average dog or cat. Myah is a mixed breed, possibly a husky mix, but no one knows for sure. She was skin and bones and scared to death of people when I rescued her, now she is healthy and has never met someone she didn't like, or try to get to play with her. She is the smallest dog I have owned, usually I lean towards Dobermans or Labs, but something in Myahs eyes spoke to me, and she came home with me.
I have always known we give pets far too little credit for being as smart as they truly are. All of my dogs have traveled with me, they are part of the family in my book. One of our usual trips is to visit our families in PA. My parents are blind, something all of my dogs have been able to sense right away. They keep a careful watch and are sure to get out of the way when they should. They all have been extremely gentle, with my mom in particular, when taking treats or just getting a good old belly rub. None of my dogs were ever trained to do anything like this and Myah is no exception. From the first visit she loved to play with her toys with "Grandma", making sure to be gentle and handing the toys to her open hands.
Now all of this is well and fine, but did you know you can actually gain valuable health benefits just from owning and caring for a pet? Increasingly studies are showing that just the act of caring for an animal can reduce blood pressure, decrease stress, slow your pulse, even add YEARS to your life! Pet Therapy has been proven time and again to help calm people with dementia, reach people in deep depression, even children who were traumatized and refused to speak have come back after hugging and "talking" out there issues with a therapy dog.
Dogs provide nothing but unconditional love. Nothing makes my day better than when Myah comes happily bouncing up to me and wants me to rub her ears or she just wants to curl up at my feet to sleep. I let her up on the bed with me, and trust me, she KNOWS when I am flaring and she needs to be gentle. She will carefully jump up, circle a bit and then carefully lay down and gently put her head on my leg. You can just feel the caring in her gaze. At moments like that it is easy to see why pets provide such a positive health benefit to their owners.
I watched a show recently on National Geographic about the domestication of wolves and their slow morph into the Dogs we know today. The scientific explanation for the close knit relationships we share with dogs was explained by saying that all mammals excrete specific endorphins when we touch each other. In other words petting a puppy or playing with a kitten makes you feel good, and it makes the animal feel good. That is a bit TOO clinical for me, I prefer to just know my dog loves me, and I feel the same way towards her. I feed and water her, play and exercise her. In return she loves me, the health benefits I get are just the icing on the cake!
Of course pet ownership is NOT for everyone. If you cannot care for a pet, and do it correctly, proper food, vet care and taking into consideration that specific animals exercise needs. Or, of course, if you do not like animals, then pet ownership is not for you. If you can provide for an animal though, and would like these extra health benefits, I implore you to save an animal! They will return the favor over and over again.
Published On: August 09, 2011