What advantages or disadvantages are there to having a pet in your life? Part 2

What advantages or disadvantages are there to having a pet in your life? Part 2

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ― Anatole France

So now you’re a proud pet owner.  You’ve researched the care and maintenance of your often quirky new companion and now you can start to enjoy all of the benefits associated with pet ownership.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH), which have both conducted heart-related studies on pet owners, research found that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  This can ultimately minimize their risk for heart attacks.  For those who’ve had a heart attack, pet parents have better recovery rates and the love of their babies can prevent future attacks. These benefits are thought to be connected with a pet’s tendency to help reduce or at least control their owner’s overall stress levels.  Therefore, pet owners report fewer headaches, bouts of depression and indigestion and less difficulty sleeping, unless you have cat like mine who loves to bound onto the bed in the middle of the night.

Being a pet owner motivates you to exercise.  Dog owners need to walk their dogs several times a day and you can get quite a workout playing fetch with them.  I’ve a grandcat who’ll bring back a toy and cats sometimes enjoy playing chase, hide and seek or pulling at a rope or cloth.  Just watch out for the claws and teeth on all pets.  While dog owners are out exercising their pets, they’re also socializing and making new friends.  Other pet owners, especially cat lovers, seem to accomplish this through Facebook posts, YouTube videos and generally just sharing stories and pictures online.

Snuggling with a pet can help ward off allergies in children, according to a number of studies done by University of Wisconsin-Madison pediatrician, James E. Gern.  These studies demonstrated having a pet in the home can actually lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent. In fact, his research, as published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, showed that children exposed at an early age to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.-             www.animalplanet.com/pets/benefits-of-pets/.  Pets can improve your self-esteem and that of children since there’s always someone who loves you unconditionally and often wants your undivided attention.

Pets reduce the number of visits to a doctor by elderly patients. Many hospitals and nursing homes use Animal-assisted Therapy (AAT) or Pet-facilitated Therapy (PFT) on a regular basis. “Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in the home,” says Lynette Hart, PhD, associate professor at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.  The love of an animal can help ease loss.  An older person whose spouse has died is less likely to experience deterioration in health if they’re attached to a pet, but you don’t have to be older to enjoy this benefit.  Children and adults with disabilities have enjoyed the help and love of service animals for years and now they’re being used by people with a wider spectrum of needs such as:  SSigDOG-The Sensory Signal Dog or Social Signal Dog, a dog trained to assist a person with autism. They alert the handler to distracting repetitive movements common among those with autism, allowing the person to stop the movement (e.g., hand flapping) or Seizure Response Dogs, a dog trained to assist a person with a seizure disorder.  The dog may stand guard over the person during a seizure or go for help. A few dogs have learned to predict a seizure and warn the person in advance to sit down or move to a safe place.  The Americans with Disabilities Act now allows these animals in schools and some places must make reasonable modifications to allow miniature horses if they’ve been trained to perform tasks for individuals with disabilities.  https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-booklet. I sat next to an uncaged therapy dog on a flight that lasted over three hours and he was better behaved than most children.

Pets have saved soldiers and locals in times of war or natural disaster, acted as search and rescue animals, served the police force in many capacities and protected their families from gas leaks and people who threaten them with violence or kidnapping.

My readers, friends and members of Bella Depaulo’s Facebook Page, Community of Single People, helped me out with this blog by giving me the following comments.

“For me, life without pets is no life at all! They cost money and can crimp the schedule, but that’s totally worth it.”

“They’re as necessary to me as air and water. When I was seriously injured and had trouble getting out of bed (because of spinal and shoulder fractures), my big bruiser tomcat, NIMBY, would head-butt my back to help me up. My bonds with my cats are intense and very different from those with people, and nothing like the “child substitutes” that some idiots think they are.”

“I always have cats. Two older and two younger. That way I’m never without a comforter. I think if you’re single it can improve your life plus, you don’t have to talk to yourself.”

“I love my two cats. The eldest is 12…and has been with me longer than any romantic relationship I’ve ever had.”

“Oh I was NOT prepared for how much I would love this little dog. She sleeps with me, travels with me, and often comes to work with me. She’s kind of the mascot for my research group. J I recently went through losing a close family member after a brief, intense battle with cancer. My little dog would cry along with me, like literally make crying noises, and would lick the tears from my face. I love her so.”

When writing about her domesticated rats, a reader reported that “People who truly know nothing about them think they are gross. There are some people I can’t even talk about my rats to. But I know from personal experience how amazing and fantastic they are so I will continue to have rats as pets as long as I can. It also helps that they don’t cost me much after the high initial cost of investing in a cage, etc.”

“I have 3 cats, youngest is 18, all rescues. They were my sole and constant companions throughout a difficult 10 years of home nursing first one and then my other parent. They were my lifesavers and joy. Where human friends were not comfortable to adapt to or support my altered circumstances during that time, they were always constant, loving and fun and were true friends, still are.”

“I am a great believer in animal therapy, particularly organized animal therapy for those who are in medical facilities where they cannot bring their own pets and also for a wide range of physical and physiological conditions. The benefits can be enormous – from helping elevate a patient’s mood, building trust, confidence and self-esteem to helping make physical adaptations and providing practical support to allow patients to live with greater independence.”

“I’m up to 3k this year in vet bills and have spent the past two hours trying to find my dogs better food. All completely worth it. My constant comets saved my life and keep me going.”

All of my pets, except for a couple of gerbils and fish, have been rescues.  I found them to be wonderful companions who were always happy to see me, comforting in times of illness or loss, great at pest control and extremely entertaining.  Even when my current baby is annoying me by sitting on my computer or attacking my hand when I use my mouse,  she’s providing me with a soft, purring, comforting companion who gives me unconditional love.  All she asks for in return is food, ice water, treats, brushing, a clean litter box and a nice pet, when she’s in the mood.

Thank you to all of the people who have joined and contributed to this blog.  Join the fun next time by answering the question on my Facebook Page, Single Boomer Life:

What can singles do to make a move to a new location easier?

Have a great week with your special friend.

Linda Lea

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