Benefits of Pets

Today I will make extra time to play with my dog, Pavlov.

It’s her birthday afterall. Well, I don’t really know if today is her birthday per se–that’s the way it goes with pound puppies–but it’s close.

I found her on Petfinder four years ago and caught a red-eye flight to Oklahoma to pick her up. She and 50 other collies and Berners had just been rescued from a puppy mill.

A volunteer brought her to the airport, I put her in my under-seat carrier, and we quickly boarded the plane. She was eight weeks old, and it was her first time away from her mom.

That’s why I don’t blame her for backing her rear against the carrier gate and letting loose.

How could I complain over such a temporary annoyance when science has proven—with even something as simple as a goldfish—the many benefits of pets, both for therapeutic and everyday health:

extended lifespan
lower blood pressure
fewer stress hormones
more calming hormones
exercise
lower risk of depression
lower cholesterol
reduced muscle tension
lower pulse rate
mood boost
relaxation
reduced anxiety
self-confidence
optimism
laughter
playfulness

And for children like Szaba, pets help:

lower the risk of allergies
lower the risk of asthma
provide comfort of structure and routine
teach responsibility
nurture compassion and empathy
give a sense of security
calm hyperactivity
stimulate mental and physical development
boost imagination and curiosity

So here’s to you, Pavlov, and for all the pets out there who make our lives healthier, longer, and happier.

You get some some extra tricks and treats today.

Sue’s dog Hunter eased her chills after chemo by draping her big coon-dog body over Sue like a blanket. Can you remember a time when a pet seemed to know exactly what you needed?

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8 thoughts on “Benefits of Pets

  1. So cute! Our pound puppy is celebrating his 2nd birthday the day after tomorrow. We got him on petfinder too, but he was already 40 pounds so flying was out of the question. Instead we rented a car and drove to Denver to get him… nothing like getting to know your new dog on a 20 hour car ride back to Portland.

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