Adopting a pet comes with multiple benefits! Dogs definitely lead the pack when it comes to pets but cats are a very close second and their owners are no less enthusiastic. While there are many other creatures one can enjoy like hamsters, gerbils, fish, turtles, lizards, snakes, spiders, pigs, rabbits, horses and more…we’re going to focus today’s article on the stereotypical dog and cat variety.
Greeting in Style
Dogs corner the market on welcomes. Any amount of time spent in a dog park reveals their inherent tendency to stop everything and gather around a new arrival. It’s all bustling excitement until necessary sniffing (front and back) has occurred and pack dominance has been established. Then everything goes back to as it was before the visitor arrived.
“Every time I open the door and see my beautiful animals, it brightens up my day.” Jessica Westfall
This behaviour extends to their domestic life as well. No matter how long you have been away, dogs will typically come running to greet you with unbridled enthusiasm. Their goal is to let you know how much they love and missed you and they communicate it plenty without a single spoken word. All they want back is some token reciprocation. You are the established dominant (hopefully) and they want to be assured that their relationship with you is still good.
“I love the way she loves us. She loves us more than she loves herself.
The excitement she shows when we come home is the absolute BEST feeling in the world! I don’t know why it took us so long to give in and get her.
We can’t imagine life without her now.
She truly is a blessing to all of us.
It not only shows the kids how to love unconditionally but it teaches everyone to be more responsible.
I could go on and on about how much we all love her.” Vicky Coe
We could learn and benefit a lot from this social exercise of enthusiastic greetings and lavish affection. Every new interaction is a chance for a fresh start. Every morning is a new beginning too for that matter. Every morning most furry pets greet us with wet kisses and encouragement to get out of bed and start the day.
“I consider pets as a blessing from God, every pet I have lived with (not owned) has added laughter, warmth, love and lasting memories. They are there when you arrive home and you are the most important person to them (except for their dinner:) all this and there are physical health benefits for us because they know how to love life, chill and what’s important, their family.” Victoria Papia
Pets call to the best part of us. They use every inch of themselves from tongues to tail in order to express their physical appreciation and in return they receive smiles, laughter, verbal endearments, hugs, kisses and full body rubs. It’s the primal language of affection and mutual benefit.
“I just love having a doggy to cuddle or hug, and is always happy to see me” Anonymous
Most of us don’t set out to give of ourselves physically. We’re just going about our day often caught up in our duties or thoughts but our pets are tenacious and their generous affection calls us out of our musings and we answer in kind. It is beautiful to see the exchange.
“I just love my Harley. The one thought that’s crossing my mind though is the fact that whether I’m gone for 20 minutes or I’m gone for 4 hours he runs at me and is so excited to see me when I walk in the door. And even if I have something on my mind and I walk right by him he literally comes behind me and continues to wait for me to notice he’s there. It’s so nice to feel loved like that by our puppies.” P. Stacey Quinlan
You can be experiencing conflict and/or rejection in every area of your life but your pet is your faithful friend no matter what. They’re happy to see you regardless of how you look and are never put off by your hygiene. In fact, they relish poor hygiene because you just smell more like you and they love your scent. You are their very favourite human! They don’t care about how you look so much as how you are looking AT them.
“I’ve had pets of all kinds as long as I can remember! Mice, rats, squirrel, rabbits, cats, a horse and dogs. As a child it gave me the opportunity to lovingly care for something without being disappointed as friends and family sometimes were. As an adult animal lover, it’s still somewhat the same. The unconditional love you get from your pets is invaluable. I can’t imagine life without them” Sherry VanderZwaag
It is this seemingly unconditional love that calms the turbulence of the human soul. It is the quiet, beautiful reminder that you are never truly alone and unloved which is a huge benefit of sharing life with a pet.
“We have three pets (1 cat & 2 dogs) because the house is too quiet and lonely without them. They comfort us when we are sad, hurt or sick. They bring joy and activity to are lives. They always love us no matter what the day. We have seen them relax individuals with anger and stress. They can sense people’s heart, spirit and emotions before people can. They know when you need extra love.” Shelley Belisle
Of course, the unconditional part is a bit of an overstatement. Our pets do have lots of physical and emotional needs and if treated wrongly over time, it will affect them and how they interact with us. Their thresholds and standards are just way more forgiving than we are accustomed to in other situations so it FEELS unconditional because for the rest of us, you do need to shower and use deodorant.
“Why we love our two boys…They love us unconditionally, they never judge us, even when we are not at our best. They treat us like they have not seen us for like, forever, even when we’ve only been gone for minutes. We become so used to having them beside us that we learn quickly how much we miss them when they are not.
But why do we miss them?
We miss them because we bonded ourselves to our pets, and them to us. But more than anything, they keep us company, they stay by our side night and day, even in the bathroom. Lol! If anyone or anything goes by our house the boys jump up and bark at them from the window, protecting us, even from the squirrels. They’re sweet and loving personality makes us smile when we look at them. They wait for us when coming in the door, wiggling around, tails wagging, looking for their home bone. When I stay up late, they cuddle up next to me and keep me company, when I finally climb into bed, they hop in next to Joe and I and fall asleep.They make us laugh with their silly antics; the way Buddy amuses himself with his toys.The boys are more than just pets, they are family. They have loved us since the day we rescued them. The sad thing is that they won’t be around forever. So, make every day a good day. We are everything to them, so we should make them everything to us. Love them and don’t ever hurt them, for they cherish every minute they are with us. We will miss them when the time comes for them to go to the rainbow bridge, but they will never be forgotten. We just ‘LOVE’ them like they love us, unconditionally.” Patty Dupuis
Pets can be the best therapy for the soul wrestling with loneliness and/or rejection. At times it can feel like stalking. A devoted pet will refuse to go anywhere in the home without you leading the way…even if other family members do. They follow you from room to room and plant themselves wherever you are until you are on the move again.
Any attempt to barricade them is met by protest. They HAVE to be with you. Even ON you if possible. You are the star of the show and they are constantly on alert to your next act. This devotion is rivaled only by young children towards their mothers for a very brief period of time in their development.
“A few things I love about my cat are that she is always happy to see me, always wants to be near me, and does not leave my side if I am sick or upset about something. She makes me laugh by doing silly things like when she runs in the bathroom and jumps on the counter when I blow dry my hair because she wants her fur blow dried too. lol. She watches tv when there is an animal show on, she lays on her back a lot and looks so happy and comfortable. She’s great. I love having a pet.” Marie Chevalier
I read recently that every parent of adolescent teens should get a dog because the dog will still love you when your offspring act like they don’t. Very sound advice.
My own doggies have been a gift to my life. Past the season of having babies, I found the familiar nurture longing rise up and suddenly having a puppy was all I could think about. We live in a neighbourhood where having a dog is the norm and it was all I could do to wait until we could buy a doggie of our own.
With our first dog, it felt like the chaos took over our lives and I thought it would last forever. With our second dog I had better perspective of what to expect and for how long. The important thing to remember is that at the same time your puppy becomes trained and calm, they lose a bit of that wiggling, enthusiastic energy. Puppyhood with all its foibles, is over all too soon.
The charm of having pets became more of a lifeline after my daughter left for university. I was completely unprepared for the transition into adult parenthood and was bereft at the loss of my previous role in the family. My doggies bring much needed joy to my days. Melissa Cassidy
Pets are sources of endless spontaneous entertainment. This is another similarity to human children. Every breed and individual creature is unique in their habits and tendencies. Add in the variety of household personalities and you will have lots of fun moments (or at least moments that are fun in the telling later).
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“I absolutely love my fur-babies! I am blessed to have two beautiful cats that we adopted from the Humane Society. They are not biological sisters, and they are 4 months apart in age, but their cages were side by side and they would play with each other thru the cages. We just had to get them both at the same time. They play, fight, take care of each-other and love like true siblings.
To keep things in theme, we named the 8-month-old grey and white tabby with super soft fur, Elsa, and the 4-month-old black and white long, silky smoothed hair kitten, Aurora. Yes, the Disney Princesses.
They bring me so much joy, laughter and love. When I’m upset, they come purring away, to bring me comfort. If I’m sitting in my chair, they love to come snuggle on or beside me. They nuzzle my face, kneed my lap and give me lots of kisses. Aurora treats me like her mama and clings to me, crying when she wants attention, meowing when she wants to play, licks my face or hands to wake me in the morning, and waits attentively for me at the door when she hears me coming home. She runs over to the garage door and waits for me. She loves to play fetch with her toy mouse and colourful elastics. Every now and then Elsa will join in and start chasing the mouse or the string, but she most often prefers to just observe.
Elsa loves to greet us as soon as we wake in the morning with a light meow, or wake us in the morning to feed her if we sleep in, and she greets us at the front door when we walk in the house. She is super sweet, loving and affectionate, unless she doesn’t want attention and she is not afraid to tell you so! She purrs very loud and loves to cuddle! On her terms of course.
Even their purrs and meows are different from each-other’s. Elsa has a higher pitched quiet cry. Aurora has a high-pitched Chewbacca rolling meow. She loves to talk to me.
Elsa likes being picked up only briefly and must be facing the side and not held tight, just a little support under her paws. Aurora loves being carried like a rag doll over the shoulders.
I’ve never had cats like these two before. And I’ve always grown up with a cat but none like these two.
I love their unique personalities, their quirky ways, their unique markings, their playfulness, their gentle ways, and their loving nature.
These are the things I love about my fur-babies” Shannon Hill
Tail chasing, clumsiness that results in harmless falls, animated reactions, and silliness… the stuff that viral internet videos are made of. All live from view of the couch. Laughter has huge health benefits!
Another part of the appeal is that animals have no filter. They do what they want to do and they express EXACTLY what they are thinking. Even if their training has worked to suppress a behaviour, it is likely that the wrestling with whether to obey or not is a visible process.
Most of us appreciate the imperfection of our pets behaviour at times. Isn’t that why we adopted pets in the first place instead of some fabricated robotic device? Of course we don’t want our pets to be a danger to themselves or others but if they have a penchant for stealing or minor interfering…we might just sit back and enjoy the show is all I’m sayin’.
Reminders to Rest & Play
Pets, like children, are a constant reminder that life is more than work. They look on while we bustle to do our tasks, stare transfixed on a computer screen or scroll mindlessly on a device. If we’re on our feet, they can hardly wait until we sit or lay down to rest so they can snuggle in alongside us after a gentle mix of affection and wrestling. If we’re sitting too long, they beg us to get up to take them on a walk or throw a toy. If we are too transfixed on a glowing screen, they try to insert themselves in between to break the spell. Life is a balance and they set the scales for us.
I have four fur babies and they are my pride and joy. Without them in our lives we would be lonely as we both work different shifts. Spike is the oldest and he has comforted Kevin’s life for 14 years. Lucky came next. He is a 4 year-old, beautiful, golden lab who keeps us always on the go with his energy. Then Meeko is my female and I watched her right at birth. I kept her because my stress level was high at the time and she relaxed me for 7 years now. Then she gave birth to Wilbert and he is now our joy and the completion of our family. He makes you laugh at the little things he does and brings joy to our complete family. We wouldn’t be complete without them in our home. Deedra Farkas
Warmth & Connection
Pets add warmth to institutional environments. Don’t believe? Just introduce a cute kitten or puppy to a hospital room or office. A clear social separation will occur between two kinds of people. The ones that move towards animals and those that move away. It’s not always obvious beforehand who will be who. Be the one who stops for a moment and moves in.
Many hotels are becoming pet friendly and its more than a response to the practical need of lodgers to bring a pet along while travelling. Our pets actually make the hotel stay BETTER. Add a pet to any environment and it has the benefit of becoming less obtrusive, cold and sterile.
Businesses and institutions that allow pets are saying something loud and clear: This is a place that cares about people and we are not so interested in perfection as the health of the human heart.
Okay, and warmth is also a literal physical benefit. On cold nights, pets snuggle in to add warmth. Really. It’s a thing.
Opportunity for Improved Fitness
Pets keep us fitter if we pay attention to their need for daily exercise. Okay this one is only for pets that require daily walking. Even if you have a fenced in yard, there is no replacement for a good old walk around the block on a leash for bringing joy to your dog. They get excited at the rattle of their leash and eagerly stop every so often “to check their messages”. That is to sniff the scents left behind by other neighborhood dogs. Then they leave a “message” of their own.
All that walking involves you and hopefully that walk is NOT the only exercise you get all day, but for many, it is.
In fact, for some who are battling depression, that daily walk is vital for getting fresh air, connecting with nature, absorbing the sun to make some homemade vitamin D and maybe even saying hello to another human. The benefit of health is invaluable.
“Honestly, I love having Ivy as a pet just because she gets me off my feet. I’m running, being outside and active a lot more than I was before I had her. She’s a therapy dog in a sort of unorthodox kind of way. And even having her by my side during the night is therapeutic. She’s a great motivator and a wonderful challenge!” Abigail Grant
The Pet Club
When I had my first baby I remember feeling as though I entered a realm I never knew existed. Women who had never spoken to me before, now included me in conversation. Motherhood, I realized, created an unseen bond that previously I had not enjoyed. It is similar with pet parenthood.
People with pets have an unspoken understanding. Anyone who can cohabit life with and nurture a happy pet has an understood level of patience and a down-to-earth soul. Like the motorcyclists who silently wave and nod as they pass each other on the road, pet owners have a mutual brother and sisterhood.
Commitment & Responsibility
Taking in a furry friend is a huge commitment and there are unrelenting demands to feed, care for, and clean up after one’s pet. However, the unceasing needs and grateful gestures of these furry beings cement even the most depressed of humans to a daily routine that disallows them to simply stop living. In the mundane but vital routine of care, we stay alive and in motion until the cloud of malaise passes.
I firmly believe that EVERYONE needs a pet! For the responsibility of caring for another living thing but also for the unconditional love! My cat is there for me when nobody else is, and I’d be miserable without her! Juli Reyes Almanza
Melissa says, “Check out Juli’s WW Youtube Channel called “Living Large on Lifetime“!
Even if you and your family are emotionally healthy, the routine of pet care is a fabulous way to introduce children to the ideas of commitment and responsibility in the demonstration of what it takes to sustain another dependent being.
“I have lived with pets my whole life. Growing up we had mostly dogs, but even when there was the odd time without a dog, we had a cat. To think of my life without a pet is almost unimaginable. It happened once so far and that was the first 7 months of marriage.
Our first pet together was a cat. Loved her, she loved to play, cuddle and purr. Our first dog together was a shepherd/lab mix. We got him from the humane society at 2 months old. Since then, we’ve had a German shorthair pointer, shih tzu mix and a shih tzu. Our daughter now owns a cat and a husky.
When I think of our time with each of our pets, the ones here and the ones who’ve gone on, I’m overcome by the joy they bring to our lives. Cuddling is almost always a certainty. They are loyal and love unconditionally. They are always excited to see you and greet you with tails wagging and kisses (if you’re into that) at the door. No matter what kind of day you’re having or how lonely you feel, you’re the world to them. You’re the center of their lives. That is one of my favourite parts of having pets.
For families with kids, its teaching the children to think of others besides themselves. You must feed, love, bathe, and pick up after the animals. I mean really do some unselfish care. You ignore them and they die. When pets get sick, you must do what you can to help them get better. The sad part of teaching with pets, is no matter how well you take care of them, the unfortunate happens and you must say goodbye. Loving is also remembering.
A great part of having these amazing creatures in my life is how they each have different personalities. They play differently, have different favourite toys, different favourite foods or treats. You get to watch them grow and interact with people and see these unique personalities just flourish in front of you.” Tabitha Grant
Especially if you are taking in a newborn pet, the first year is a critical time. With the right mix of consistent joy, love, care and behaviour correction you can produce a pet that will thrive happily for their lifetime with you.
“As someone who has anxiety and depression, one huge factor of that is loneliness. Feeling like no one cares and no one wants to be near you. After going through some traumatic experiences and being diagnosed with PTSD, I found it really hard to connect with people. Then I got my cat, Sawyer. Sawyer helped my anxiety and PTSD tremendously. Helped me stay calm when people were over. Comfort me when I’m sad without having to say anything. People are always helpful but sometimes they want to fix you and give advice when all you need is some comfort and to feel love. Animals have unlimited love. He helps me sleep with his purring and reminds me constantly that I have someone who loves me. He also gave me responsibilities and kept me busy when my depressive episode made me want to stay in bed all day.” Zoe Mendler
As the above paragraphs attest, pets improve our mental health. They calm nerves and lick away tears. They sooth the soul and make life more bearable. Studies are showing that pets help with a variety of mental health issues like PTSD, anxiety, depression and the such. The vulnerable benefit most. Children, seniors, sick…even prisoners benefit from interaction with pets. For some, it can literally be the pocket of joy that gives them strength and hope to live a little longer.
“God gave most women a man to provide for them. Instead he gave me my dogs Marley, Elly, Molly and Miley. Over the years they have brought joy to many families with their puppies. My grandkids have made many wonderful memories playing with the puppies as have I. I wake up in the mornings to kisses and hugs and cuddle time with my fur babies. I am thankful to have a king-sized bed to accommodate us all, dogs puppies, kids and me too!
In the summer we enjoy golf cart rides and long runs on my parent’s golf course (the closed part.) When I am not feeling well, they all cuddle with me on the couch. I don’t need an alarm. No one can enter my home without them alerting me. It is a wonderful feeling of safety. My dogs are certainly one of my greatest blessings.
I have a little red wagon that I use to take the puppies to the nursing home in Essex. We visit and spend time with the elderly there along with my stepdad. The pups are well socialized before the go to their forever homes. My customers have weekly visits with their pups from 2 weeks of age until it is time to go.” Cathy Rogers
This is not the exhausted list of pet benefits but talk to those who love and share their life with a furry friend and you will hear variations of these points. I took some time to contact my pet-loving friends and ask them what they love about their dog or cat. I was overwhelmed by their responses. Every one of them was appreciative of the value their chosen animal has added to their life.
But first, one final story…
“I grew up with pets but they were mostly outside. When I finally got my own place, I got a kitty and have had them ever since. Many people say cats are standoffish but I feel it depends on how you treat them. I always talk to them and cuddle them constantly when they are babies so they become very attached to me.
I currently have four kitties and I love them to pieces. When I come home, they run to greet me (sometimes) unless they are curled up in a warm sunny spot or I can always find them in my bed.
The first one I will introduce to you is Queen Fuffa. I found her one day as I was searching for a place to live. She was all dirty and her fur was completely matted to her skin. I could not believe someone would have abandoned this beautiful lady. I really didn’t want to take in another cat but she followed me to my car and jumped in and the rest is history. Rescue cats are the best. She is such a loving girl, who sits on my lap and licks the tears off my face when I cry. She knows what a hard life is and understands me when I’m in pain.
The next one is King Fuzzers. He is a huge 22lb boy who will sit on my lap and put his paws around my neck and just purr. We go for walks together and he talks to me all the way there and back. I can lay right on him and he will stay there and purr. Whenever a new kitten comes into the family, he protects them like they are his own. Check out this gorgeous boy. He really is the man of the house.
The next one is named Pepito which means little boy. He is about to turn 4 on May 5th which is Cinco de Mayo, so I had to give him a Spanish name. He is so soft and fluffy and is so comforting to pet when I am having a fibro flare. He looks at me with his big green eyes in adoration as I run my fingers through his amazing silky coat.
The last one is the absolute love of my life. He’s the baby and his name is Punkin. He just turned a year old. This little fluffball curls up to me at night and purrs and rolls and purrs some more. He puts his head upside-down and puts his little mouth near mine so I can give him kisses. When I am having a difficult time sleeping all I need is my little Punky to come and snuggle up to me and I start to relax and fall asleep. He is my little lovebug.
This is my family and I thank God for them every day because they bring me unconditional love and they are always there for me to love me no matter what mood I am in. They are quiet and sweet and I am so thankful for each one of them.” Shirley Bellaire
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Read about Melissa’s crisis and how it lead to the creation of LeavingBusy.com
Feature photo owned and designed by Melissa Cassidy
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Thanks for reading Laurie! I found your blog link in my spam folder, sorry!