Animal Therapy

When I arrive home after a disappointing day, I always smile, no matter what possible additional stresses lie in wait for me behind that door. One of the largest reasons for my smile is knowing that a small, nine-pound, fluffy sweetheart is anticipating my arrival with glee. He is a toy poodle/pomeranian mix named Milo, and he is definitely a source of comfort and peace in my life. Very few people have ever been as happy to see me as that dog is every single day! Most pet owners would agree that there is nothing in this world quite like the unconditional affection of an animal.

However, pets are also a lot of trouble! Family and friends who have chosen to eschew non-human family members often ask the usual questions, such as:

  • “Isn’t having pets difficult at times?”
  • “Doesn’t having pets require a lot more cleaning?”
  • “Isn’t it expensive?”
  • “Doesn’t it make travel difficult?”
  • “Isn’t it sad to watch them grow old and lose them?”

The answer to those questions, and many more, is simply…yes. Having pets means spending extra money, changing plans, requires more cleaning, and it is heart-wrenching to watch them age and die. So why do we do it? The short answer is that it makes us happy. The happiness comes from the absolute devotion animals offer us, without question. There is also something innate in humans…who are also pack animals of a sort…to care for those who are weaker and have no voice. Providing a pet with food, water, shelter, and affection is fulfilling. You can see, hear, and feel the joy that we give them with every wag of a tail or deep purr elicited. Frankly, it is a great deal easier to make a pet happy than other humans!

When Milo is snuggled up in my lap, all warm and cozy, I feel myself relax, and I am reminded to simply enjoy that moment of peace and affection. He seems to understand when I do not feel well and steps carefully. If I am sad, he offers little kisses and paws at me until I smile once again. When I am happy, he is thrilled and shows it! He is my own personal therapist, assisting me in overcoming daily drudgeries and the frantic hustle and bustle of life. I give him full credit for my (somewhat) stable mental health!

I am a complete believer in the adage that states a house is not a home without a pet. I will even go further and state that I give a great deal of credit to the judgment of my dogs and cats. If Milo doesn’t trust a person, I tend to look at them askance as well. Their antics make me laugh every day! I even love the sass of my feline family members, despite the fact that it is often directed toward myself. I have never seen a more impressive look of pure derision than Nugget’s visage when the food bowl is lacking in contents. Their individual personalities and quirks are as varied as any human’s.

I am sure that those of you who have pets are nodding your heads, while non-pet lovers are still a bit dubious. To be fair, there have been many studies done that show cuddling with an animal relieves anxiety and depression, lowers blood pressure, and even strengthens the immune system. For me, though, I have yet to discover a purer, simpler joy than that of making an animal happy and receiving its unconditional love in return. There is something deeply fulfilling in the knowledge that, even in a complicated, harried, and occasionally unkind world, I have been able to create a piece of perfect security, warmth, kindness, and bliss for one small creature.

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