Ever since I was a very small child I have been surrounded by animals. There was always a dog or cat. When I was very little I remember my brother having mice and there were these tiny little babies. I remember watching them and holding them and looking back I am amazed that they were allowed to be “pets”. Were they pets ? Or did my brother hid their existence ? I was young and I don’t remember how long they were even there. I just remember how tiny they were and they were fascinating to me.
There were also a long row of rabbits cages outside. I know we ate a fair share of them and we sold them as well. There were chickens and my mother took care of them; she was scared of the rooster because he was mean and would chase her. We also had a cow.
So we had a combination of animals who were pets and farm animals who provided us with food. Sometimes, as with most young children, the lines blurred between which were which. It was a great experience for me and my siblings.
My oldest brother won a dog for a shooting contest he had entered. I don’t remember much about the details; I just remember the dog and having puppies later. I think we sold the puppies but I do remember the warm fuzzy feeling of playing with them in the yard.
My Dad had a fondest for dogs and I remember two dogs in particular that were special to him and helped create a stronger bond between us. The dogs were both mixed breeds and both had great personalities. I do not remember where we got the first dog but based on how we got the second dog, I am sure my Dad found him somewhere and just brought him home.
His name was Lucky and he was with us for several years. He learned to chase cars when some neighborhood boys would ride up and down in front of our house with noise makers in the spokes of their bicycles. That’s when it started and he moved on to cars. He would not go into the street but would run on the sidewalk in front of our house. That was fine until our next door neighbor backed out of his driveway and hit Lucky. I saw it happen and I ran for my father. Lucky was alive but he couldn’t get up.
I learned a lot that day about my father when he tenderly picked up Lucky and carried him to the car and took him to the vets. Lucky did not come home with my Dad. His spine had been very badly injured and so my Dad made the decision to have him euthanized. I was old enough at that time to realize how much it affected my Dad and the sadness he was experiencing. I will never forget the look on his face as he was carrying him.
My Dad was a realtor and a year or two later he came home talking about some puppies he had seen at a house he was selling. You could tell he was really wanting one of those puppies. One Sunday when we came home from church my Dad looked at me and asked if I wanted to see those puppies. My Mom who had just said she wanted to take a nap looked at my Dad and told him do NOT bring home any puppies. Well we did.
His name was Dandy and he was a little Beagle mix. He was a great little dog and he was my Dad’s companion. My Dad like to hunt and he would go out after rabbits and pheasants. Dandy always went with him until one day when Dandy was older he had run off after a rabbit and my Dad could not find him. He came home distraught and then went back out searching. This time he found him. Dandy was getting a little old and sometimes my Dad would have to carry him out of the hunting fields so he couldn’t go with him any longer. Then Dandy starting having episodes where he would shake and fall down or stumble around and then he was starting to have accidents in the house and my Mom was not happy. Shortly after that my Dad took him to the vets and had him put down. It was the only time I ever heard my Dad sobbing at night after everyone else had gone to bed.
I know many people can relate to this. When you have a pet you develop caring relationships with them. Some people will not relate at all. Over the years I have had many deep, caring relationships with animals. They can have a great impact on us and can help us in many ways. In my case they helped me understand my father who was stern and not overly involved with his children. It was a different time then and raising us was pretty much left up to my Mom.
Today I can see the rewards of owning a pet for my husband. We are older and his health has not been good. We have always had pets in our time together but I was always the driving force for having them. About a year and a half ago we got a new dog. We had been looking for one for awhile and this time it was my husband who decided on this dog. This dog is my husband’s best friend and he unabashedly will tell you he loves him. He makes my husband happy and better able to cope with his illness. I truly believe my husband will live longer because of this dog. He relaxes him, comforts him and makes him laugh.
There have been many, many studies done and many articles written about the positive impact animals have with humans.
An article written by Steven Feldman, Executive Director, The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) called the interaction between us and a pet that helps us to relieve stress caused by our everyday activities the PET EFFECT. I totally agree. You can read it here:
Another article I read is: “The Benefits of Pets for Human Health” written by Dana Casciotti, PhD, and Diana Zuckerman, PhD. National Center for Health Research. http://www.center4research.org/benefits-pets-human-health/
Pets can help lower blood pressure and ease anxiety. Because we have to provide care for any pet we will enjoy the benefit of more physical activity and fresh air and even the potential for more human interaction depending on where we live. Although I complain sometimes when the weather is nasty about going outside to walk the dog it is overall one of my most enjoyable activities. If I take him to the park then we also get to interact with other people and their pets so it is enjoyable and beneficial for both of us.
Personally I think that having a pet is a stress reliever. If I am feeling irritated or stressed in any way I quite often will “talk” to my pets or pick them up and carry them around. I can actually feel the difference. It calms me down and I am then able to go on with my day and feel better about myself. It also helps me to “talk” to myself about whatever it was I might have been feeling at the time.
Another article is https://chopra.com/articles/7-health-benefits-of-owning-a-pet
I like No. 7 – Keeps Us Present. I had not looked at it in this way before. Animals simply live in the here and now. How wonderful is that ? They do not look backward and worry about something that happened in the past. Just think about how much time you have wasted in your life time thinking about something you said or did. A prior relationship, something that happened at work, and how you said something you wish you had not. Our pets help us stay in the moment too and we need to focus on that so much more than we do. Ever watch a dog with his head hanging out the window with its ears flapping and its tongue hanging out. What joy !
I think the best part of having a pet is the feeling of well being they bring with them. They make us better humans.
Here is a link to a wonderful blog by Linda Ford. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-ford/the-privilege-of-living-w_b_9606338.html.
She sums it all up.