Animals have a way of bringing joy into our lives and making us smile, no matter your age. About half the households in the U.S. are pet owners because of this.
The holiday season is the most popular time that pets are brought home as gifts. People are well-intentioned when they do this and need to remember it’s a big commitment and responsibility. Training, particularly for dogs, is important to bring out the best in them. They interpret our behavior, understand our energy and will respond to that energy.
My brothers and I had a variety of animals growing up: a rabbit, a bird, a gerbel, and lots of lizards/turtles and a few dogs and cats over the years.
At my home there is a retriever-hound mix (Spooner) and a very handsome DLH tuxedo cat named Charlie (who was adopted through Cat Crusade)and having these pets is a blessing, even when the very senior dog wants to go outside for no reason at 4am. There are many proven health benefits for people, including physical, mental and emotional improvements with pets around. The benefits outweigh any negatives in my opinion.
My fellow animal lovers will agree with these five great reasons to open your home to a furry friend (or any type of pet), and why doing so can be what the doctor ordered.
1. A pet can be your personal trainer. Dogs need to be exercised on a daily basis. A fenced yard really is not enough. Doing activities with them is a treat and movement is healthy for both of you. You can take them walking, hiking, jogging, swimming, and even along for a bike ride. Cats need movement too and that can be through interactive play if they are kept indoors.
2. A pet is good for your heart. Petting an animal has a calming effect and decreases your cortisol level (stress hormone). They fill your heart with love and help reduce risks such as a heart attack – pets can help reduce your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
3. Pets give you a sense of purpose. You establish an emotional bond with them like a family member. Taking care of them does require responsibility and that can give you a sense of value and importance. It also adds a positive focus to your life. An added bonus – allowing your children to help take care of the pets is great way to teach them about empathy along with responsibility.
4. Pets provide companionship. They offer unconditional love, and this can help reduce loneliness and boost your overall mood. Animal-assisted therapy is very popular with nursing homes and hospitals too.
5. Pets are a great way to bond with others. Pets are social facilitators. They provide common ground to interact with others and help develop friendships. There’s the empathy factor in play again. And you can’t neglect a smiling stranger when they ask about your pet. I just had a lovely conversation with a neighbor, whom I have seen but never really spoke with, the other day all about our dogs which lead to other topics. It was delightful to meet someone new.
Remember that animals don’t care about what you have or what you look like. They accept you for who you are. What’s not to love about that? Adopt today, below are a few organizations that need foster and furever homes.