Over the years we have had many pets. The typical dog, cat or bird along the way. Eventually we started to zero in on owning just a dog, or at the current time - dogs. About five years ago we lost a Pomeranian named “Noel” (born on Christmas) that we had had for about 12 years. It is too painful to get into the full story, but know that this dog was a part of our family, just like another child, and at her passing my wife an I mourned for two days in the house. It was dreadful. We decided at that time that we were done with dogs. Well not really because it wasn’t even a month before we were on the hunt for another one. Or in our case…three sisters.
After searching pet stores, puppy farms - one lady had over 350 Pomeranians which she would not part with any of them - to the internet. We eventually found a trio of sisters who belonged to a poor rural Iowa family who had been breeding puppies to generate revenue. I guess it was a win-win for both parties since they got rent money and we received a basket full of unconditional love. It was at that point that I realized that my pets were a version of kryptonite for stress in my life. These three puppies would keep us so busy and deliver an abundance of unconditional love to the point that we would eventually put our mourning aside for the one we had just lost, and provide us with new experiences with them.
Coming to this epiphany, I decided to pay a little more attention to how our dogs reacted to the family when one or more of us were experiencing a form of stress or anxiety. Amazingly these precious little creatures had a natural instinct to detect when one of us needed love. Some how sensing that we needed a distraction, they would bump into us and beg for us to pet them. This is a calming act in of itself. In some bizarre way it is as if they are pulling the bad mojo out of your body and absorbing it themselves leaving you with a sense of calm and peacefulness.
So I started to realize just how far this really went with pets being a sponge for raking out the stress from our bodies and began to understand the benefits of pets.
1. Service Dogs
As a traveling salesman I see many people traveling with their certified service dog. In speaking with them I have come to see that their pets provide a way to reduce the anxiety of travel. Some of the folks also suffer from different forms of mental stress to post-traumatic stress disorder. They also help the disabled and even people with diabetes.
2. Animal-Assisted Therapy
According to the Cancer Center’s website "pet therapy, is a form of therapy that uses dogs and other animals to help people cope with health problems, including cancer.” Not only are pets excellent for helping the patient cope with their current situation, they go on to say that pet therapy “may provide patients and their families with comfort, relief and a distraction from pain, discomfort and stress.”
I have seen countless movies and heard of programs where nursing homes have brought in pets for their residents. Not only does the animal provide a relaxing environment, but it also helps with loneliness that comes with people who feel isolated and don’t have the social network they once had. I know for a fact that my father-in-law relied on his dogs to provide him purpose everyday. His friend, Bear pictured in black below, would follow him everywhere. He would even jump into the truck in the mornings to go pick up the mail.
My hope is to enlighten the reader to understand the invisible power of a pet’s unconditional love and the benefits associated with it. Connecting with a new dog will not only enhance your mood, but will also provide a new friend with a good home. The first step to realizing the unforeseen benefits of owning a dog is to go out and find one that is compatible with you. The reward you will receive in return is priceless.