Pets - Our Furry Friends

Duke - Family Pets

Duke - 2000 - 2013

On March 15, 2013, our long time companion, Duke went to rest in one of his favorite spots on our farm. Duke was more than our dog, he was a member of our family and a great friend and companion for over 12 years. He was my baby boy, my first dog, and a black and tan German Shepard to boot! Those of you who had the opportunity to meet him were first awed by his beauty, then his wonderful personality, and his outwardly remarkable happiness. I most certainly miss him. I found myself looking for him Sunday morning when he wasn't by my bedside, and realized when I got to the living room he was gone.

I have been an animal lover since I was a kid. Cats, dogs, birds and fish, I enjoy them all. Duke's passing made me wonder "How much do pets really affect our health and well being." I have always known pets are good for your health, yet I found more evidence than I originally would have expected. Did you know that in studies of patients with heart attacks 94% of the people with pets were alive after one year compared to only 74% without pets. That is absolutely astounding! Studies have even been done that show the mere presence of an animal, even in a picture, influences one's perceptions. Also, have you wondered why so many dental offices have aquariums, well I finally figured out why. Apparently watching fish swimming around an aquarium reduces anxiety and blood pressure so what a good way to relax you before your dental treatment.

Some Benefits from Interacting with our Furry Friends

  • It decreases feelings of loneliness.
  • It motivates you to participate in conversation.
  • It encourages physical contact. You stroke the animal giving you and the animal attention. Scientists say this is a much needed form of human expression.
  • It actually motivates you to exercise by taking your dog for a walk or playing with your cat.
  • It can make you laugh when you think of the silly things your pet has done.
  • It also helps you socially. Many people find it difficult to talk to others in a social setting and sharing stories of your pet makes it easier.
  • It reduces stress and anxiety, they even have a test to measure these effects.
  • It is beneficial for the heart.

There is no doubt a strong connection exists between us and our furry friends. Measuring how someone feels about their pet on an individual basis could be difficult to quantify. I am sure many of you would take notice during pet therapy in your local nursing home or hospital the calmness that takes over and the smiles that appear on people's faces when they see that dog come in. One thing I know for sure - people love their pets and their pets love them. Having a loving relationship and friendship with an animal could never not be healthy! What a wonderful thing!


Be Kind to All Your Friends, Especially the Furry Ones!

Written by Mara Gerke, CA, CNHP, All Rights Reserved.

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