By Sarah Wylde
There is another connection I have to mention that it is just as consequential and unique as the one we get with other people. I am talking about the one that forms between our furry family members and us. If you have ever had a pet, you know that unconditional love and the powerful bond that is created.
The feeling of lick on the hand, a gentle nudge, gentle purrs from a sleeping cat curled up in your lap, the excited tail wags that greet you when you come home, they give us so much love and emotional support. Pets are so attuned to our behavior and emotions through our body language, tone of voice, and even gestures. They also show us the benefits and joy of being mindful. They live in the moment, not worrying about what happened yesterday or what is going to happen tomorrow. Just live in the moment and being present. It is not a one-way connection. They actively seek contact with us and want to be with us. They want to be cuddled, protected when scared, depend, and trust us to care for them.
There are studies that being in a dog or cats’ presence can increase levels of oxytocin, lower blood pressure, increase exercise, help PTSD, lower stress, anxiety, and depression. They also hold therapeutic effects for others as well. The companionship provides support to the elderly, perform what is needed as a guide animal, and more.
When you decide that it is time to introduce a pet to your house, first, congratulations, second, make sure you can commit. Opening your life up is rewarding, but it is also a big responsibility. Talk to the other members of the household to make sure everyone is on the same page. Animals adopted from a shelter make an excellent option. Heartbreakingly, too many shelters are kill shelters, adopting from a shelter gives a cat or dog a second chance at life and love they deserve. If, when reflecting, you find that you do not have the time to commit to having a pet full-time, there are other ways. You can volunteer at the local shelter, foster, and more.
Until next time, take care of yourselves.