I think that one of the most enriching and enjoyable experiences in life is to own a pet. Pets provide us with a feeling that is really hard to describe; it’s a feeling of companionship, support, and love all bundled up into one being. The feeling of love is one which is an unconditional love that no matter how bad of a day you are having, they are there to support you and love you. Pets provide comfort, a shoulder to cry on, or a “person” to talk to who can just listen.
For me, one of the best benefits of having a pet is- no talking back! No snide comments or judgments about why you are or are not doing something. I am sure there are people that think I am crazy because I talk to my dog like she is human. There’s just something cathartic about it, knowing that I can share anything and not be judged..
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself” –Martin Buber
When you have another life that looks up to you and relies on you for their well-being, it promotes a sense of self-worth. You want to be your best to provide for your pet. It is said that petting a dog releases beneficial hormones into the bloodstream known to be associated with healing and feelings of well-being. Not only that, but they make you laugh. And laughing is known to protect your body from stress. I laugh every day at dinner when my three year old dog gulp’s down her food like someone is trying to steal it from her, then proceeds to let out a HUGE belch when she is finished! The power of laughter is contagious and lightens your burdens and inspires hopes.
There is a pet out there for everyone. If you are having issues with mobility, or fear not having the energy to “play” with your pet, consider a cat, or a bird; both of which are fairly self-sufficient animals and can get by on their own during the time when you don’t have the energy. Maybe pet ownership isn’t for you at all, sometimes the financial burden and responsibility is too much.
That doesn’t mean you still can’t be affected by the power of a pet. There are several options for individuals to interact with animals through either therapy animal or service animal A therapy animal is trained to provide affection and comfort to people in need. They, along with their handlers, come to your home or facility for visits. Therapy animals differ from service animals in that they are not trained to perform a task for the benefit of an individual. A Service Animal is defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act as any dog individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. This can include guide, mobility, sound alert, and medical alert/response work. Service Animals can provide the same level of support and comfort that a therapy animal can, however, they take their jobs very seriously!
If you are interested in finding out more about therapy animals or service animals, there are several organizations and programs available to assist with your search. Pet Partners is one organization that helps people live healthier and happier lives by incorporating therapy, service and companion animals into their lives. Their website http://www.petpartners.org/ provides information and resources for individuals interested in therapy or service animals.
How have you been affected by a pet? Have you ever considered a service animal?