Having an animal in your life can make things much better for all concerned. Here are some reasons why.
1. A pet’s love never fails. No matter what, the animal that you have bonded with will always love you and remember you.
Even if you cannot return that unconditional love, just knowing that it is there will make your life better.
2. Caring for something other than yourself is emotionally healthy. Giving and getting a little love, even if you have to say “off the couch” 270 times a day, can take your mind off your troubles and help you to see what’s really real.
3. It is also physically healthy. If you have a dog, you need to take it (and you) on walks.
Cesar Millan says that dogs are happiest when they are walking. And it’s common knowledge that taking regular walks is also good for your heart and brain health.
4. An animal in your life will help ease your suffering. If you are dealing with depression, trauma, or anxiety, having a pet will make things better. The relationship is pure healing.
There is even a reality show about how dogs can help Veterans dealing with PTSD and parolees trying to work their way back into society.
5. You may not think you have the energy to care for a pet. A friend who has been battling cancer for a decade got a tiny puppy about a year before it started, and that dog has, without a doubt, helped keep her alive. Even at her weakest, just having her loving pup by her side is such a comfort.
6. Yes, animals do die first. Or, if you move into a place that does not allow animals, you may have to give away your pet.
Yes, losing your pet is very painful, but when you think about how much love this animal gave you while with you, it’s totally worth the pain of loss.
7. No, pets are not replaceable. Rescuing little Foxy has made things much nicer for our family, but I still miss my Mercy and think of her every day. The connection we had was heart to heart, and caring for her that last year truly changed me.
8. Just the act of petting a creature lowers your blood pressure and helps you relax. Next time you are feeling out of sorts, I recommend going to your local shelter and giving some love to an animal there.
You won’t have to take it home, but notice how you feel when the two of you are exchanging emotional energy. And don’t be surprised if you do adopt!
9. Saving a life will make yours better. Some people prefer their new puppy to be from a pet store or bred brand new on a farm, but what about the used ones?
All my animals have been rescues, and they are as sweet as can be. All of them have been young, one or two years old at most, so I’ve gotten to have them for a long time. Besides, if you’ve ever raised a puppy, you know how hard that can be!
10. Maybe you think you don’t have enough room in your heart. You may already have a family to love, and that is totally wonderful. But you may want to consider adding an animal into the mix.
I’m sure if you ask your family, they will agree that pets only add more love. They never take it away.
If you want more love in your life, consider a pet. I know not everybody is an animal lover, but if you think you might be, don’t deprive yourself of this wonderful gift to humanity.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.”