With the food bills, care needs and short lifespans, a non-animal person might wonder why we give so much to our pets but animal people know how they add liveliness, laughter and warmth to our days.
We learn from these non-human relationships. Practicing kindness to animals teaches us how to be kind to ourselves.
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” ―St. Francis of Assisi (Goodreads)
The human-animal bond brings us wellness, friendship and happiness.
Animals keep us healthy. Dogs and horses make us stay active. Whether it’s taking our dogs Mercy and Cookie for a walk around the property or lifting hay bales for the horses, caring for animals keeps me in better physical shape.
They help our psychological health. Research shows that pets help relieve stress. Animals give you someone to focus on other than yourself. During hard times or grieving, the steady presence of a dog or the warm purring of a cat soothes you when few things can.
“It may be a cat, a bird, a ferret, or a guinea pig, but the chances are high that when someone close to you dies, a pet will be there to pick up the slack. Pets devour the loneliness. They give us purpose, responsibility, a reason for getting up in the morning, and a reason to look to the future. They ground us, help us escape the grief, make us laugh, and take full advantage of our weakness by exploiting our furniture, our beds, and our refrigerator. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Pets are our seat belts on the emotional roller coaster of life–they can be trusted, they keep us safe, and they sure do smooth out the ride.” ―Nick Trout (Goodreads via Central Missouri Humane Society)
A friendly face is a great antidote to loneliness. When you come home, you have someone there. They don’t have to check their schedule; they’re always ready to socialize with you!
Dogs excel at reunions. Who doesn’t feel popular returning to a house where a wagging tail awaits you? How would it be if we showed the same level of excitement to our loved ones when they came home, welcoming them at the door with hugs? A feeling of belonging gives us well-being.
Some animal friendships are closer than others. My dog, Bu (Sula Bula), was independent in her twilight years. She would take herself down to the pond for a swim and come back for dinner. The warm water must have felt good on her old bones. After dinner, she’d head off for bed.
We decided to adopt a second dog, Mercy, to keep Bu company. I was amazed at the loyalty of our new white spotted dog. Mercy stayed by my side, following me from room to room.
After Bu died, we adopted Cookie. She makes Mercy seem reserved. Next to me is not enough. Cookie’s place is on me. She launches herself with 15 pounds of pure Chihuahua power into my lap whether I’m ready or not.
This morning she got a splash of tea on her head because I wasn’t expecting her. She practices the philosophy of, “Leap toward the lap!” as opposed to “Look before your leap.”
Where people can hold back and worry about looking foolish, she leaps and loves without hesitation.
No matter what I’m doing, Cookie is there. She plays the roles of laundry assistant, barn help and crochet project supervisor. She outdoes herself in the kitchen while on dropped bacon pickup duty; I’ve never seen such focus and concentration. Her closeness can be cloying but for the most part I love having her constant companionship.
We talk to our friends so that means we talk to our pets. Do you talk to your pet? You’re not alone. A study showed that 97 percent of people do (Pets: Good for your health). St. Francis was known to preach to animals. (St. Francis Preaches to the Birds)
Want more interaction with your pet? Make an effort to spend time with your fuzzy friend. Play string chase with a kitty or relax in a sunbath next to the dog. Often, our animals are the ones seeking us out. It does us good to slow down and give affection.
The best pet is the one whose face you want to see every morning and every evening. I’m happiest sitting outside where I watch contended horses graze, a dog at my feet and another on my lap. I find the sound of the horses’ chewing and the smell of fresh grass peaceful.
“Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.” -St. Francis of Assisi (Wikiquote)
It’s a good life. Pets make it even better. Enjoy this video of my animals and others I know and love.
Is there a special animal in your heart? Tell me about him or her in the comments!