As a dog lover I am all too aware of the benefits of having a dog around the house.
My theory was always fresh flowers and a dog make a house a home and while the flowers can bring a sense of serenity, before they wilt and die, a pet brings completeness. When there is friction at home the pet is often the “go to” for reassurance, a true diplomat and arbiter, non-judgemental and unbiased no matter what the circumstances. It is fair to say the love is unconditional and that, in itself, is a powerful and positive attribute.
In addition to seeing-eye dogs and dogs that can be trained to detect seizures, animals can also be used in occupational therapy, speech therapy, or physical rehabilitation to help patients recover.
The impact on our physical health has been well documented over the years as the companionship of a pet can aid the health of the heart by helping to lower blood pressure and regulate the heart rate during times of stress. In my frequent walks I have come across many people who have been advised to take a pet into their home as the simple act of stroking the fur can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
The appeal is wide ranging literally from cradle to grave. It is clear that a child’s exposure to animals can ease anxiety in a similar way to an older person with high blood pressure. The presence of a pet can relax a child and as a result some schools are taking action to introduce a dog or a cat into the school environment.
Putting aside the therapeutic roles animals have on us they are without doubt the most valued of companions. This can have such a dramatic impact on our lives, general outlook and health. As we value friendship and strong family bonds the social support provided by a pet also promotes the social interaction with others and reduces any feeling of isolation and loneliness. As part of the daily routine a walk in the fresh air can help boost energy levels and these factors are probably most widely recognised by the elderly.
While many would have concerns over the aspect of allergies that a pet might bring, it is often found that where children have had cats or dogs in the home from an early age they tend to have a greater resistance to allergies than others. This protective effect has been associated with a gut bacteria that can be present in dog owners.
As a biased owner of dogs I can wax lyrical about having a pet and all the benefits mentioned. Whilst the calm and serenity is true there is equally recognition that having cream carpets, low coffee tables with dishes and glasses in a house, particularly with a dog with a very waggy tail, is not conducive to always maintaining a tranquil atmosphere….but on reflexion it’s well worth it. Woof woof